Just returned from an opening night meal at Row34. I wanted to post this more to add some information and get a thread going then a full comprehensive review as their website is not fully up yet etc.
Currently 18 of 24 tap lines are running; really nice draft list and the prices are very fair. They will be offering half pour options of the 16oz offerings which is awesome.
I believe there were 6 types of Oysters offered this evening with 2 of the varieties being from Island Creek…the new Row34 Oyster is a nice option; much creamier and nutty then the IC's which is one of my favorites. Four different kinds of crudo at prices from $9 - $14. I tried the striped bass which was very good.
The menu rounds out with a good selection of appetizers which include 2 sizes of fried clams. A separate section offers hot and cold lobster rolls, and a fried clam roll. Entrees range from bucantini with clams, fish of the day, to a burger with a steak and another option in the middle.
We had oysters, tuna tartare, pasta, hot lobster roll (w/ chips and slaw) and butterscotch pudding for dessert. Everything but the Tuna Tartare (maybe dice was too big, too many cucumber pieces may have watered it down) were totally spot on and delicious.
I usually give a bunch of leeway on opening night but I can honestly say this place came off like it had been in the neighborhood for a large part of 2013. Great food and service. All the key folks from ES & ICOB were on hand watching over the opening; love the graphic T's with logos from key vendors…nice touch.
Overall….great addition to Fort Point and for a person who loves the food and service at ICOB and ES, this is slightly stripped down ICOB with emphasis on craft beer instead of cocktails. Looking forward to going back next week.
I went on opening night as well. Wanted to love it, only liked it. Always great to have another good seafood restaurant, especially one with such a good beer selection, but, unlike Island Creek, I thought they weren't trying to do anything interesting. Oysters were great as was an appetizer that I believe they referred to as fish headcheese. There was not much on the main course page that looked interesting. The whole fish was just boring and tasteless (but seemed fresh). The fried clams were good enough, but they charged $1 each for sauces (a spicy catsup that tasted just like catsup and sirachia, a horseradish mustard that tasted like any horseradish mustard you could buy at the grocery store and a mayo based sauce that I can't remember what it was billed as, but tasted just like mayo). I don't care about $3, but it just looked like they were being greedy asking for extra money for sauces (in particular sauces that were nothing special). Some people like their seafood without much adulteration (I actually consider myself one of them), but its not like they are doing crazy things at ICOB, and given that the bill ends up coming to about the same amount, I would have appreciated some of the creativity in the main dishes that you get at ICOB.
"Overall….great addition to Fort Point and for a person who loves the food and service at ICOB and ES, this is slightly stripped down ICOB with emphasis on craft beer instead of cocktails."
What he or she said.
I am a person that loves the food and service at ICOB, a *lot*, my lovely dining companion and I could not have had a better experience.
Clam chowder is wonderful, although do not give a taste to your pescetarian dining companion.
The interior space, not something that I tend to pay a ton of attention to, is breathtaking.
DCs roasted whole branzino was one of the best dishes either of us have ever had.
I had the House Made Bucatini steamed clams, garlic crumbs - perfect.
Something I noticed upon exiting? We were actually full. In a good way. Unlike with some other less friendly seafood venues in Boston.
Decent wine selection btw/ if beer does not float your boat.
I want to go back very soon for two different experiences: 1) beers and the burger, 2) beers and graze the "smoked and cured" menu.
I am all *over* this place.
I had a great meal at Row 34 this past Saturday night. I started with 3 Row 34 oysters and 3 Island Creeks and they were both excellent. My wife had a shrimp slider to start and she loved it. I added one to my dinner and thought it was just ok. I much prefer the ICOB oyster slider. I had the warm lobster roll with butter. Not quite as good as Neptune but still pretty good and a decent value at $22 which includes slaw and fries. My wife had the sea bass which she really enjoyed.
What sets this place apart from all other seafood places? As mentioned in this thread, it is unquestionably the beer! Really a well done beer list which is almost unheard of for a Boston seafood restaurant. While I like the beer focus, I do wonder why they have made the decision not to serve liquor. Given the players involved, I doubt it was a financial decision. The fact is that there are people who don't like beer or wine but enjoy a cocktail. Will those people be disappointed? As a beer drinker, this will never phase me but I do have a few friends that insist on a cocktail with dinner.
Just had dinner last night at their 6-week point after opening. Row 34 is serious and clearly here to stay!. We were wowed across the board!
Comparisons to ICOB are inevitable for us - Row 34 wins for food, but ICOB has quite an edge with their full bar. Service was impeccable and impressive. We were seated right at the time of our reservation in a full dining room and warmly welcomed (is it possible their reservation system knows we frequent and are huge ICOB fans??).
The room is very stylish and energetic yet low key and casual feeling (more so than ICOB) with a very open kitchen. The interior view of the transformed space completely negates the vast landscape of parking lots outside (there are some awesome designers connected with these guys - I love the ICOB interior as well). I could imagine it getting really loud when packed beyond the capacity of the chairs at the well-spaced tables and along the bar (note every chair at the bar was taken by people eating dinner - I expect this is not an easy place to come and meet a group for drinks without carefully planning). In spite of the full room, I noted that parking on a Sunday night with nothing happening at the convention center was easy as pie within less than a block at a meter (I guess this could also happen in Kenmore Square under similar conditions, but it's not my experience)
The wines by the glass and draft beer choices are interesting and the prices are fair. Our server Kate was well-versed in all of the menus (why not consolidate the three pieces of paper??) and had helpful opinions / recommendations.
The bread to start was fresh, soft white rolls that are probably crowd pleasing but not our favorite with a generous dish of soft, salty fresh butter. There is room to improve here - had it been crusty, we would have requested more for sauce soaking (more on that later).
A dozen oysters to start were pristine and nearly perfectly shucked (a few tiny bits of shell and a couple that weren't quite free of their shells when served). The eponymous ones were far and away the best for us last night, but we enjoyed the regular ICs, Wellfleet, and Katama Bay as well.
The smoked striped bass terrine was a near miss - OK but needed more flavor and a texture that held together instead of crumbling like a pile of feta cheese the first time it was touched. The smoked mussel app provided "on the house" was perfect, with the accompanying sweet sour pickled shallots (or small onions?) and creme fraiche.
The mains were the stars (which is sadly not often the case in many of our recent experiences overrun with small plates, sharing platters, etc.) - the spicy fish stew ($27) Kate recommended most was perfect fusion - shrimp, tilefish, scallops - and a few fried calamari pieces, in a lobster broth balanced with lemongrass and red curry. The pan roasted striped bass ($26) sounded kind of ordinary on a roasted garlic puree with pepper sauce and accompanied by fennel, but it was magically balanced and truly delicious. I am not ashamed to say there was some serious plate licking, and we would order these again in a heartbeat. The portions were on the large side of normal to me, but not huge by any means.
Our Chablis by the glass was fine with the oysters but really basic (at a pretty basic price to match of $10 a glass) - the recommended $13 glass of more complex blended French white was far better and paired perfectly with the spicy fish stew, as did the Double Jack imperial ale draft recommended with the striped bass.
Because we could, we ordered 6 more Row 34 oysters as a pre-dessert and then had the butterscotch pudding to share for dessert (and it was really creamy,rich, and flavorful, but it was not as hoped for, the return of the legendary Great Bay butterscotch pudding of my dreams years ago - this is much closer if not the same as the one at Lineage). The super-friendly floor manager or sommelier complimented our ordering choices and gave us a couple of glasses of Cava with the second round of oysters as "that's how she enjoys them most" - it was a very gracious and nice touch that we appreciated very much.
At just over $200 for two including a generous tip, this was a luxurious, delicious meal we look forward to repeating again soon - several times! We need more additions to Boston dining like this.
Finally made it to Row 34 last night... What a fun place!
We got there around 5:40 in hope that if we arrived early, it would make up for our lack of foresight in making reservations, but we were wrong. There was already an hour and 45 minute wait for the dining room, but we'd trecked all the way to fort point from Brookline so we were in it for the long haul. We went to the bar for a few beers and after a few minutes realized that one of the bartenders was keeping a list for bar seats. As I was putting my name on the list, another couple who had tired of waiting heard me and offered us their spot on the list... The kindness of strangers! We were seated at the bar around 6:20.
The service at the bar was friendly, but so busy. None the less, we settled in for a very enjoyable evening and never felt rushed. We started with a dozen oyters, trying six of the nine varieties on the menu. While the person who brought them over gave us a quick run-down of what was what, we couldn't remember by the time we were eating them, but I believe my favorites were the Howland's Landing and my partner's were the Row 34.
Throughout the night, for beers, we tried the Eldherb Pilsner, the Flower Power IPA, the Trillium Fort Point Pale Ale, the Maine Beer Co. Zoe Amber, and the Ungespundet lager (our favorite.) We really enjoyed sampling our way through their outstanding beer list.
After the oysters, we got the deviled crab toast and the fried oyster lettuce cups. Both were wonderful. The deviled crab was smoky and a little bit spicy and I preferred the lettuce cups to ICOB's oyster sliders... The oyster flavor really came through without all that bread to get in the way! At some point a bartender had forgotten to bring a beer that we had ordered, which another bartender happily took care of when we mentioned it. No big deal to us, but she had the kitchen send out some shrimp sliders on the house which was a thoughtful (and delicious) touch.
We split the creamy lobster roll to finish the evening and side of broccoli with IPA and cheddar sauce. Once again, I found the lobster roll (which came with chips and a bit of slaw that they thoughtfully split onto two plates for us) to be a step-above ICOB (I don't like the flavor of the rosemary on their roll), but contained a bit of pickle relish which I wasn't a fan of (I prefer just celery.) We were so full that this point that the broccoli didn't get much love. I thought it was a bit overcooked and mushy, but my partner, who is not generally a big broccoli fan, really enjoyed it.
Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves and look forward to returning soon (with a reservation!) The bill was around 150 before tip, which we thought was reasonable given the amount of food and drink we enjoyed.
Friends and I showed up late Friday and over indulged in many delicious menu items, including Howland's Landing ( my fav too) and Ungespundet. One person along for the ride doesn't eat fish and wasn't that hungry so ordered the sour cream potatoes ... They have gone on my "last meal list" for sure.
I love that place
It has a lot of ICOB's virtues, making up for a lack of great cocktails (it's beer/wine only) with a really strong beer list. No West Coast oysters, though. It's another deafening room, too, especially when it's packed, which is already most nights.
Tried it for lunch yesterday and my husband and I both loved it. This will go into our regular rotation despite the fact that we seldom find ourselves in that part of the city. It is a destination spot.
I spotted the cask beer on the menu and our fabulous bartender was quick to let us know that since he had just finished preparing a new cask, he could offer my husband Tröegs Nugget Nectar.
One sip from the tasting portion put a smile on my guys face that was still there when we returned home. Apparently this is a seasonal beer not usually available on draft but since Row 34 has their own system they were able to send their container to the brewery and have it filled.
I had a lovely crisp cava from Pere Mata.
Since I'm a warm buttery lobster roll lover, my order was easy. Ed was in an oyster mood and did a couple of rounds of Island Creeks and Row 34s. Once more deep knowledge on the part of our server gave us a detailed background on the growing of the Row 34s vs the Island Creeks.
We also had the lobster tacos which were an old favorite of mine from Lineage. Crisp house-made tacos, a smear of avocado, big pieces of cold lobster and a bright mango salsa.
I scooped up the remaining salsa with the wonderful potato chips that came with my lobster roll. Speaking of which, the roll was so perfect I had to ask if they were making their own. I was told it was Iggy's. It was slightly oversized and took the grilling like a pro. Not too sweet and not at all gummy.
We finished with a butterscotch pudding- another old love from Great Bay and a candy bar dessert that was our server's favorite. We took half of that home because we were both stuffed.
There is something about walking into a new place and feeling at home within minutes. We told our Uber driver to note the location because this was going to be a popular run from all around the area.
re: MC Slim JB
You'll have to go for lunch. It was relatively quiet yesterday afternoon and the staff had time to answer questions and offer background. I think lunch and early dinner will be our target times here. I can't wait to try the dinner options but those lobster tacos are a good reason to lunch.