You would think that at eight on a Monday it would be a pretty easy to find a seat at a restaurant. At least, that’s what I thought as I put my name down for a spot at Neptune Oyster. I imagined that it would be a fifteen-minute wait, my number would be called and I would soon be dining on freshly shucked oysters and lobster rolls to my heart’s content. Sadly that was not the case. After an hour of waiting and wandering through the North End, I walked back to Neptune Oyster to find that a table for one still wasn’t available. Eventually, a sympathetic hostess made some room at the bar and I was able to plot my course on a journey through Neptune Oyster’s menu.
After watching the shucker behind the bar work her magic, my platter of cold seafood was set in front of me.
Shrimp cocktail, in my opinion, when done well, is one of the best appetizers available and Neptune Oyster does shrimp cocktail very well. The shrimp were large, juicy with a touch of lemon flavor, and carried an ever-satisfying snap with each bite.
The Kusshi oysters were smaller and brinier than the kumamotos, but just as buttery.
The Jonah crab, sweet and perfectly complimented by the mustard sauce, was an excellent way to round out the cold portion of this meal. If there was one downside to the plate it was the mignonette, there was nothing particularly wrong with it, it just paled in comparison to the heavy horseradish flavor of the cocktail sauce.
If there was a disappointing section of the meal, it came in the form of the clam chowder.
Thinner than I was expecting, this chowder came with a healthy dusting of chives.
The variety of textures particularly the crunchy celery and well-cooked potatoes were welcome features but the star of the dish was a let down.
Instead of clams with every bite, this bowl was populated with a few big, chewy strips of clam meat. Far from the worst bowl of clam chowder I've had, I was expecting more from Neptune Oyster.
Saving the best, or at least the richest for last, the Maine lobster roll finished out the meal.
When ordering, I had the choice of served hot with butter or cold with mayo, and who would choose mayo over butter?
At first this was possibly the most glorious sandwich I had ever seen. The roll was toasted from the grill and was simply overflowing with butter drenched lobster.
With the first bite, I came to know the true definition of excess. The lobster was moist and sublime, the butter rich and ever so lightly toasted, and the roll provided just enough crunch to hold it all together.
However, it became readily apparent that this was not a sandwich to linger over and savor. The roll, soaked from the river of butter, became soggy and quickly started falling apart in my hands. I did my best to keep it together, but there was too much butter, too much lobster and too little time.
As for the fries, they were all well salted and quite tasty but it was an odd mix of textures. There wasn’t any particular uniformity, some were small and crisp, other large and limp. Regardless of their size and texture, they played a distant second fiddle to the lobster.
Several hours after I set out from my hotel, I had to wonder if the walk to and wait at Neptune Oyster was worth it. Yes it was. From the cold plate of oysters, shrimp, and crab to the monumental lobster roll it was all divine, even the lackluster clam chowder had its charms. If I’m looking for a negative to this meal, it reads like a list of first world problems. My clam chowder wasn’t meaty enough. My lobster roll has too much lobster and butter. These are the problems that I love to have. I can only hope that Neptune Oyster hasn't forever spoiled me on lobster rolls.
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