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December 13, 2009

The Lobster Roll-Off - Chapter VI - B&G Oysters

B&G Oysters Dominic Armato

Oh, the purists are going to hate me for this one.

The other half of the dynamic upscale lobster roll duo is B&G Oysters in the Back Bay. It's a tiny, basement place that's very cozy, very hip and very expensive. Barbara Lynch needs no introduction around these parts, but for those not up on the Boston restaurant scene, she's as big as restaurant names come in this town, sitting atop a local empire that also includes No. 9 Park, The Butcher Shop and Sportello, along with craft cocktail bar Drink, demonstration kitchen Stir, and fresh market Plum Produce. B&G is the kind of place that frustrates food nerds. It's the antithesis of the divey seafood joint that's long on character, full of delicious sea critters and short on prices. To sum up? $27 lobster roll.

Now, there are many who will insist that there is absolutely no reason to spend $27 on a lobster roll. And I have a hard time arguing with that sentiment. But again, the aim of the Lobster Roll-Off is to cover all bases, and B&G is quite notable, so I felt it would be a dereliction of duty not to sample what may be the most expensive lobster roll in the Boston metro area.

Here's the problem: I liked it.

Lobster Roll - B&G OystersDominic Armato

I'm seriously going to make enemies of both food nerds and lobster roll enthusiasts for this one. B&G's lobster is highly non-canonical. And it's also not without its faults. But I still really, really enjoyed it. The salad is a mix of pieces, diced to a pretty uniform medium cut, dressed with the perfect (for me) amount of mayo, celery brunoise -- I'm allowed to use that word here because it's a Barbara Lynch restaurant -- and a smattering of minced chives on top. The lobster itself, like Neptune's, was a little on the denser, more toothsome side (I'm trying to avoid the word "tougher" on the grounds that it carries too negative of a connotation), and the flavor was, well, appropriately lobster-ey. Unlike the other upscale lobster rolls, B&G has the bread right. It's a no-frills hot dog bun, lightly toasted. It's not too bready, it doesn't get in the way -- it does precisely the job it's supposed to do. And while I try not to give much if any weight to whatever accompaniments may adorn the plate, I just can't help myself here. There's a little dollop of a very nice slaw. There's a huge pile of some really, really excellent fries. They're hot and crisp and absolutely delicious. And most importantly, there are the bread and butter pickles. Here's where I'll earn the ire of the purists, and in deference to them the pickles were never actually added to the roll. But these crisp little pickles, subtly flavored and ever-so-slightly sweet, were just the perfect accompaniment to the lobster roll in between bites. Any more potent and they would have been too much, but these are some very tame pickles, and they don't get in the way. The roll is not without its faults. I'm rather open to lobster with a little chew, which I realize is highly off-putting for some. B&G's is as far towards that end of the spectrum as I'd care to go. And a little more of that natural lobster sweetness would help.

But as much as I'd love to abuse the $27 lobster roll, I can't... for anything besides its price, I mean. And everything at B&G is expensive. If you walk in the front door, you've already conceded that you're willing to overpay for very good seafood in a trendy setting in a ritzy neighborhood. And I'M forced to concede that of all of the rolls I've tried so far, especially when I consider the accompaniments, this is the one I've enjoyed the most. There's room for improvement, to be sure. But for now, B&G sits atop the heap.

(Sorry!)

B&G Oysters
www.bandgoysters.com
550 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
617-423-0550
Mon11:30 AM - 10:00 PM
Tue - Fri11:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Sat12:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Sun12:00 PM - 10:00 PM
  1) B&G Oysters
2) The Clam Box
3) Neptune Oyster
4) Belle Isle Seafood
5) Skipjack's
6) Fred's Sea Foods

Comments

Wow.

Dom, how about you do a long term temp assignment in Minneapolis or something?
So you can give our burgers (particularly the jucy lucy of course) this royal treatment!

I don't think anyone here sells a $27 burger. Maybe not even room service in the hotels.

Don't suppose your recent use of the word "toothsome" would have anything to do with Kevin's use of it on Top Chef, would it? ;)

Please... we here at Skillet Doux have a documented trail of the use of "toothsome" going back to May 10th, 2007 :-)

http://www.skilletdoux.com/2007/05/baccal.html

(Though despite Kevin's reintroduction of the term, I've been trying to drop it... getting a little trite!)

dominic: not a lobster roll fan myself. (i've eaten any number of lobster rolls, because i'd heard so much about them, on a long car trip through new england. but lobster itself is just too rich a thing for me.) at $27, though, i think you're out of the "lobster roll" territory and into "Guédille de homard frais" (québecois) or "Sandwich du Maine au Homard". they both MEAN "lobster roll" but if someone's going to charge you $27 for it, the french name might soften the blow.

Whoa whoa whoa, Dom -- I thought you were of the opinion that B&G didn't hold a candle to Neptune! Why the change of heart?

That said, the one lobster roll I've had was at B&G, and it was awesome. Best hot dog bun I've ever tasted, also loved the pickles, and the fries were hot and perfectly salted.

Mncharm... I believe I said that B&G's cold doesn't hold a candle to Neptune's hot. Which is a completely meaningless comparison. And yet I stand by it :-)

A very fine distinction, Dom! You aren't an attorney in your spare time by any chance, are you? :)

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