Where to Puritan Oyster Bar in Inman Square, next door to Puritan & Company, both owned by chef Will Gilson.
Why Because who wouldn’t tackle a challenging Inman Square parking situation to eat oysters from New England waters and other enticing seafood?
The Back Story Gilson, 40, opened Puritan & Company in 2012, then three more spots — The Lexington, Geppetto, and Café Beatrice — in the Shed at the new Cambridge Crossing complex beginning in 2020. Puritan Oyster Bar is adjacent to the first restaurant. The space was originally used for storage and during the pandemic, as an extra area for off-menu prep and as a festive winter market for groceries and gifts. You can eat at the 14-seat bar, at one of the two dozen dining room seats, or (soon) outside on a Cambridge Street patio.
What to Eat Oysters, of course. You pencil in varieties and amounts on a little pad and receive them with three small condiment squirt bottles clustered in the ice. Dishes are small plates, meant to share (if you’re anything like me, you’ll want your very own; hands off please!). Dreamy Parker House rolls are warm from the oven, served with a rosette of good butter. They’re generous in size and come two to an order; share them (even if reluctantly). Ultra-crisp tacos are filled with yellowtail and spicy mayo, and a plate of briny white anchovies is offset by a dish of Calabrian chiles for a little heat. Brandade is creamy and smooth (salt cod is not at all salty), but should go with something nicer than the ordinary crackers we get. A smoked bluefish melt with cheddar on rye is an ingenious surprise. There are no super-sized entrees and for now no reservations.
What to Drink With five beers, eight wines, and a cider, POB’s drinks list is abbreviated. Wines are offered only by the glass, though you can, on request, buy a bottle. Choose from seven cocktails, or order something custom (we didn’t try this).
The Takeaway Our talented server, Michaela, is balletic as she whirls around the table, not interrupting diners’ conversations, and setting a nice pace, which is a talent. This is a wonderfully welcoming and comfortable no-frills place with food that shows us what a New England oyster bar can be. 1166 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge, 617-615-6195, www.puritancambridge.com/oysterbar
Sheryl Julian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.