In what may soon become known as Boston's Restaurant Row, we recently visited Row 34 on Congress Street in the Fort Point area. This is the latest addition to the once desolate area of endless warehouses and parking lots with even more dining spots soon to follow. It was 6:15 pm on a Tuesday night in the pouring rain. The place was virtually packed with patrons of all ilk eager to try the extensive craft beer offerings and taste the sustainable seafood dishes offered by the same team that brought you the eponymous Kenmore Square stalwart Island Creek Oyster Bar. Skip Bennett, partner in the the new eatery as well as Duxbury's Island Creek Oyster Farm, explains that the name is taken from the oysters cultivated on the racks that begin, you guessed it, on row 34.
Central to the restaurant is a strong focus on craft beer cuisine and pairings. How refreshing it was, as a lover of fine brews, to see so many people thoroughly enjoying the beer pairings. We began with sips of Jaipur IPA, an excellent start.
Soaring ceilings and upscale, industrial design set the tone for a casual atmosphere but does not detract from the seriousness of the food or the excellent service.
Island Creek Oysters and Row 34s were served up aplenty with plenty of condiments to accompany the salty, briny tastes.
This Shrimp Slider was both buttery and flavorful, part of our first course and one of my favorite tastes of the night. An Ungespundet (Lager, Mahr's, GER) was the pairing here. Beer Director Megan Parker-Gray explains that her tastes run toward the lambic but I have to say that each brew served was well-chosen and most new to me.
The Tuna Crudo Joined a Black Bass Ceviche (not shown) to whet our appetites for the following courses. Seafood lovers will find much to enjoy in the plates created by Executive Chef Jeremy Sewall.
A new take on the charcuterie plate, this Smoked and Cured Board was a delightful surprise of ocean flavors. The Bluefish Pate was popular at our end of the table, as was the Monkfish Liver Mousse. The pairing here was Calablaza Blanca ( Witbier, Jolly Pumpkin, MI). Available Draft (along with 25 or so others) it was a great offset to the rich tastes.
This Mini Bucatini was our third course. Spicy, salty, rich but not overpowering. We had now moved onto the wine, specifically a 2011 Le Rocher des Violettes, Touche-Mitaine, Montlouis).
Not pictured was our Pan Roasted Tilefish and a citruisy Fried Chicken Thighs with Biscuits and Gravy that was the definition of comfort and satisfaction on a cold, rainy night. Roasted Carrots were my favorite side, cooked to perfection, slightly sweet. The Brussels Sprouts seemed identical to my own home-made version, caramelized yet tender. A 2011 Damien Laureau, Le Bel Ouvrage, Savenniéres was paired here.
The final flourish came in the form of this Butterscotch Pudding, loaded with sweet goodness yet surprisingly light (I wanted more) and and Apple Hand Pie with a flaky, crispy crust and warm filling. Very, very nice.
There is no doubt that Row 34 will become a destination spot for those seeking a new alternative to upscale seafood and a dubious selection of beers from Tripel to Wheat Eisbock to Flanders Red Ale. I'll be back if just for another Smoked Board and selection of sips.
383 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210