It has been a long time since I have been inspired to write about a new restaurant. This is partly due to the fact that I keep going to old favorites but also the fact that nothing new has truly moved me enough to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. This changed this past week with me trying Select Oyster Bar located in a Back Bay Brownstone on Gloucester Street.
I met my friend Kerry after a bit of a rough day at work. “I will come to you!” I proclaimed and so I jumped on the number 9 bus from Southie and headed into Back Bay on a rainy Tuesday evening with the thought of trying somewhere new. Select Oyster Bar came to mind and at around 6.15pm we walked over in the pouring rain to this new locale.
Select Oyster Bar was opened in June this year by Chef Michael Serpa formerly of Neptune Oyster. We were immediately greeted with charming genuine smiles from the host, which in turn made me give a much needed smile back.
The place was packed for a Tuesday in the small bar/restaurant area and on the little patio, but we found two seats at the bar in front of a huge selection of Rosé wines much to my delight. The bar area offers about 20 seats down one side of the room with tables in the bay window and along the back wall. There is also some seating on the covered patio. This place is really warm and charming.
More smiling faces of the bartenders welcomed us to the bar and handed over the menus while pouring water. The menu shines in its simplicity but is not without a bit of Mediterranean flair. Fruits du Mer of shrimp cocktail, scallop ceviche and crudo are offered. For the starters there are choices of mussels, smoked blue fish, aroz frito and blue prawns a la plancha to name a few. For a while we just focused on this part of the menu as well as what was being offered on the specials board.
My first order of the evening was a glass of the Sentier Rosé a perfectly dry Grenache, which paired well with the selection of fresh oysters we ordered with just a squeeze of lemon for me.
We followed the oysters with a special of Sea Bass Crudo, a ridiculously good subtle and light white fish with a complementary crunch of fresh cucumber in a light oil. The only downside to this wonderful dish is that it was tiny and four small bites to share was just not enough. However, at $18 we decided one plate was enough, given there were many other things we wanted to try.
We moved onto a steeping bowl of mussels in a bread mopping worthy creamy soup of leeks and chives.
Our final dish was the superbly spiced swordfish. This dish stood out for me beyond anything I have enjoyed in a long time. I do not normally gravitate towards swordfish on a menu; however, our bartender said this was one of her favorite dishes so we felt compelled to try it. Oh my, it is just an outstanding dish of mildly spiced, charred flavored meaty fish. Complemented by a burst of color with the sweetest mixed tomato salad, I honestly could not have enjoyed anything more. Kerry was as equally enamored by this dish.
Select offers freshness throughout their menu and it was a nice change to enjoy good honest seafood with no fanciness but definitely with a bit of a frill. They do also offer one steak entrée for those not inclined to enjoy fish.
Throughout our evening we were attended to with the perfect amount of attention of check-ins, water refills and asks of what more they can do for us.
A bit of surprise at the end of the dinner is that they give you the check inclusive of a 20% gratuity. Their rationale as I read it on their website is that it allows the staff to focus on hospitality rather than making a dollar. I am an over tipper anyway, especially when service is really good, which Select is, however, it was a bit strange as I felt the decision to compliment good service was taken away from me. I am not sure how I feel about that.
In the end, I absolutely loved every minute of my evening at Select as I know my friend Kerry also did. The service is exemplary and the food is simply excellent. I highly recommend the swordfish if you are stopping by. I know I will be back as I want to show this place off to some of my out of town friends.