Entering this cavernous spot in Back Bay—with its cool blues, metal and stone surfaces, and under-the-sea artwork—is like snorkeling away from ritzy Newbury Street into a submarine den. That ambiance, combined with the knowledge that it’s all the work of chef Michael Serpa from famous Neptune Oyster, should point you in the right direction: It’s time for some raw seafood.
Getting started is easy, thanks to the check-it-off menu and pencil waiting at your seat. Oysters top the list, with a handy mention of place-of-origin for every single item. Balanced local Duxburys are an obligatory start for any Boston visitor, while selections from Maine—tangy Norumbegas and giant, briny Pemaquids—are delicious, too. If you see the rarer Sankatys from northeastern Nantucket on the menu, jump at the chance to try them.
And don’t forget the wine. Well, actually, you can’t forget the wine when the entire wall behind the bar is basically made of wine bottles. Basking in the rosy glow of a rosé display, let the Sancerre begin flowing, and don’t let it stop; instead, switch to a white version when the oysters arrive.
Moving on from wine and oysters, the real personality of Select shines through: fish, delicate oil, and fragrant herbs. A mind-blowing salmon crudo, glistening in a puddle of pistachio oil, somehow marries everything you love about sashimi with everything you love about nut butter. Dressed Maine lobster is pure lobster meat as you’ve never had it, graced with an olive-forward, super high quality EVOO. The octopus is perfectly done—meaty and tender with mountains of cilantro and crispy snap peas. The halibut, too pretty-to eat, hints at a Mediterranean influence with crushed nuts, citrus peels, and dark greens. Not a starch in sight, a pervasive feeling of freshness—it’s like the whole restaurant is a deconstructed ceviche. At the end of the night you won’t feel weighed down like you would exiting a clam shack. Instead, you’ll emerge healthy and refreshed as if from a dip in the ocean.
Warning: a 20% gratuity will be automatically added to your bill, but the service is usually good enough to justify it.
Don’t worry, there is a mignonette to go with those oysters, but you’ll have to ask for it.
For any kind of fete—morning or night, birthday or wedding—you can rent the whole restaurant. Select makes it easy; visit their website to fill out a handy online form and get a quick quote, then work with the staff to tailor the menu.
The sprinkling of red flakes on your salmon crudo is more than just red pepper. It’s togarashi, a Japanese spice mix that contains seven other ingredients in addition to red chili pepper flakes: sanshō pepper, orange peel, black sesame, white sesame, hemp seed, ginger, and—most interestingly—seaweed.
Tastes of Select Oyster Bar
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