Although this bustling restaurant is huge, it’s hard to snag a table. No surprise—ICOB is just a stone’s throw from Fenway Park, and the seafood is local and fresh. Once you’re seated, though, you’ll realize that you’re in very good hands. We did when our server plopped down a basket of crusty homemade bread and some butter dishes, offering a fair warning: “Be careful with that butter. It’s really good.”
We weren’t careful. Perfectly soft rounds of compound butter—with subtle hints of honey and cayenne—did not last long. And when those empty butter dishes were dutifully replaced without question, we were ready to trust that server all night.
And we were right to do so. Oysters are fascinating; they vary endlessly, embodying the tidal landscapes of our coves and inlets, our coastal terroir. It takes a real expert to understand them, and Island Creek is full of experts, being owned by a Duxbury, Massachusetts oyster farm. Here you can sample two of ICOB’s homegrown varieties alongside a selection of New England’s best—with a couple of farther-flung selections for fun.
Ogle the oyster menu or have your server choose—once the oysters arrive, he’ll spin off tasting notes like the most professional of sommeliers. Start with some Island Creek Duxburys, sweet and briny beauties that are a staple at restaurants throughout the city. We love the Bay Views with their umami undertones and baby-carrot finish, as well as the sweet and super-plump Ichabods.
We all know that oysters should be washed down with wine, and the wine list here suggests that the team’s appreciation for that beverage runs as deep as its love of mollusks. While the food menu is extensive, somehow everything is a work of art: Crispy oyster sliders are adorable with green and pink arugula and pickled onion, while lobster roe noodles are a lovely coral, punctuated with bright green peas and succulent pieces of lobster and braised beef. A giant, heaping buttermilk biscuit glistens with a rosemary honey butter sheen. The savory, stewy brown broth underneath a gorgeous filet of halibut only accentuates its snow-white hue, necessitating a mid-meal ordering of a crisp house Pilsner—ultimately, as refreshing as a breezy evening on a Duxbury beach.
Waits can be long here, so head next door to Eastern Standard for excellent cocktails and pre-oyster oysters.
Nothing wrong with a seat behind the huge bar at ICOB. You’ll get a mesmerizing view of those shuckers shucking away at top speed.
Want to avoid game-night traffic but still sample ICOB’s prowess? Oyster bar Row 34 in Fort Point is run by the same team.
The secret to Duxbury oysters’ super-briny character: Southwestern winds blow warm surface waters across Cape Cod Bay while churning up cold, extra-salty water from the sea bottom.
Tastes of Island Creek Oyster Bar
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