This restaurant review comes from Katelyn Weber, who just happens to be my cousin. Katelyn recently moved from Boston to Newburyport, but I wouldn’t categorize her as a complete newbie to the area. She spent many summers exploring the rocky beaches at my grandparents home on Gerrish Island, Maine.
As a New Englander, oysters are as staple to a meal as butter, and with hundreds of restaurants offering a curated assortment to choose from, it’s always exciting to try out a new place that offers a different take on this salty-treat.
Last week, my boyfriend and I tried out Row 34 in Portsmouth. (The flagship location in downtown Boston.) At first glance, the restaurant is beautiful—rows of aluminum pendants, dim lighting, killer bathrooms—but underneath the decor is a restaurant that provides diners with a beyond-pleasant dining experience and food that is lined with innovation.
I’m a sucker for a great cocktail and Row 34 certainly does not disappoint in this area. The seasonal cocktail list is traditional with a twist and has something for everyone. My favorite was The Aviation—airy and packed with taste. The kicker was the almost completely frozen martini glass which made for a great drinking experience and had me ordering way more than my fair share.
As a seafood restaurant, Row 34 would be nothing without its raw bar selection and—let me tell you—it’s perfection. The oysters are fresh and carefully curated (the selection seems to change almost daily), the smoked/cured seafood is aged to perfection, and the crudo/ceviche is simple with major flavor.
Up next were appetizers and, like the raw bar selection, they left us wanting more. First we had the clam chowder, and though it was not as thick as some of the more traditional clam chowders I’ve had, it completely blew me away in flavor. Topped with a homemade saltine cracker, it screamed New England, and I proudly admit that I licked the bowl clean. Next were the swordfish tacos. I get what you’re thinking—Swordfish in a taco, that’s a little odd—but I couldn’t rave about these enough; I think Mexican-flavored swordfish is my new fajita.
Bacon cheddar burger with caramelized onions, fried oysters, togarashi aioli, and coleslaw—need I say more?
This was our first time at Row 34, and to say that I will be here everyday is an understatement. (Well, maybe not everyday, but you get the picture.) The staff was friendly and attentive, the decor was beautiful, and the food was fresh, delicious, and completely blew away my idea of a traditional seafood restaurant. I give Row 34 a 4.5/5 and can’t wait to check out more of their menu.