Neptune Oyster is a tiny restaurant in the North End, known for its hot buttered lobster roll and the notoriously long wait to get in. I’d been once a few years ago, after trying my luck walking in at 5pm on a Monday night. I had a great experience and since tried to go several times, but found that every time I went there seemed to be a 2-3 hour wait.
Recently, some friends from out of town were visiting and wanted to try Neptune after reading several reviews. There were four of us, so we planned to go at 4:30pm on a Wednesday and hope the wait wouldn’t be too long. When we arrived, four spots (together) at the bar had just opened up. This was incredibly lucky; we watched a line form shortly after we were seated.
We started with some oysters and prosecco while looking at the menu. We tried two each of the Wellfleet, kumomoto, Island Creek, and Barnstable and then each ordered a couple more of our favorites. My favorites are always kumomoto, but I enjoyed everything we tried. The Wellfleet were small and a very smooth, the Barnstable were much larger and brinier, and the Island Creek fell somewhere in between.
Next, we shared several appetizers. They were all delicious, but my favorite was the buttermilk johnny cake. I’d tried this during my first visit to Neptune and have had cravings for it ever since! It’s essentially a giant pancake topped with honey butter, smoked trout tartare, and caviar. The flavors all work really well together, and I love the creative twist on the traditional caviar and blini.
The Neptunes on Piggyback were another favorite and close second. These were fried oysters paired with pulled pork, golden raisins, mixed greens, and pistachio aioli all served on top of a grilled crostini.
We also enjoyed the Hamachi Ceviche: fresh sliced Hamachi marinated with jalapeño, tomatillo, and cilantro, and steamed littlenecks in a white wine broth with grilled crostini.
After the apps, we were almost too full for dinner but decided to share an entree: the seared Georges Bank scallops. This dish consisted of four large scallops seared perfectly on the outside and rare on the inside, served with duck confit, Brussels sprouts, greens, and Maytag blue cheese. This was outstanding, and a perfect ending to a great meal!