Where to Saltie Girl in the Back Bay.
What for Fish in all its supple glory — tinned, smoked, raw, fried — courtesy the MET Restaurant Group’s Kathy Sidell.
The scene A narrow little hideaway like you might find in Barcelona. Word to the wise: There are no reservations, so arrive before 6:30 p.m., when the neighborhood onslaught begins. (This isn’t really Barcelona, you see. People eat at a reasonable hour.) There’s a small, aqua-tiled seafood bar where guests perch on stools, swirling wine, and where Sidell is spied in one corner, keeping an eye on the kitchen. A handful of raised booths make up the room’s remainder. About those booths: Unless you’re a professional acrobat, you might have a hard time hoisting yourself in and out — they’re cozy.
What you’re eating Everything. There are toasts (crab, sardine, smoked salmon). There is crudo (hamachi loin, tuna carpaccio). There are majestic platters of raw oysters, littlenecks, and sea urchin from the seafood bar; larger plates of mussels and Dover sole; juicy fried oysters brushed with a sweetish chile sauce; warm or cold lobster rolls; and caviar by the ounce — available on whatever you desire. If you still feel hungry (and you might), grab the separate tinned fish menu and choose from small containers of squid in spiced ragout; octopus, mussels, and mackerel fillets in olive oil; or Spanish brined cockles, all served alongside dabs of sea salt butter and jam. This is the type of place where one extra Prosecco might find you ordering beyond your means or comfort zone — and leaving happier for it.
Care for a drink? There’s a healthy roster of sparkling wine and rosé, plus a handful of simple $14 cocktails like Coconut, with rum, pineapple, milk, and egg white; Anise, with gin, ginger, Campari, and sweet vermouth; or Apricot, with rum, lime, and brandy.
Overheard Delighted proclamations; lovelorn lineages; solicitations lost in translation. “Who would have thought to mix crab toast with burrata?” a wowed woman asks, reaching for another bite. “Start bringin’ the food! Bring! It! On!” hoots a garrulous young gent to a table of ruddy-faced pals, who appear eager to spend major money. “I dated her, and I dated her sister, but I never dated her mother,” hee-hees a fellow in pleats. “Did the waitress offer us ‘hand towelettes’ or ‘pear galettes?’ ” wonders a woman on her way out the door. Her companion, in a Panama hat, shrugs.
281 Dartmouth St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-267-0691, www.saltiegirl.com