IN THE KITCHEN As I bite into a fried oyster on my first visit to The Oysterman, my mood lifts. The dish is good and good-looking, too, with yellow, cornmeal-coated oysters set atop pink pickled onions, green lettuce, lime wedges, and dots of an orange aioli. The plate sends a message: Someone cares in the kitchen.
That someone is a team of chefs who work with owners Dermot Loftus and Chris Schweiger. “We’re not creative geniuses,” Loftus said. “I’ve been 30 years in the business and know what people like to eat. We have a scratch kitchen and a great team and we serve good quality food in a pub atmosphere.”
Loftus, who owned the Porter Cafe in West Roxbury before selling it last year, fell in love with all the oyster farming in Duxbury, thus the restaurant’s name. Schweiger, too, came up through the restaurant ranks — he worked at Lydia Shire’s Scampo in Boston — while earning a master’s degree at Boston University (ask him about the trombone).
THE LOCALE Duxbury is rural and the new buildings, renovated structures, businesses, and restaurants on the corner of St. George Street and Railroad Avenue, a.k.a. Millbrook Station, is a welcome new destination.
“When we first walked down here, it was just a few dilapidated buildings,” Schweiger said. But thanks to developer Michael Juliano and more than a dozen local business people, the corner is filled with unique shops in buildings with a cohesive but not cookie-cutter style.
The Oysterman is outfitted in reclaimed wood, a marble bar, black leather banquettes, industrial metal chairs — high and low — and a pristine stainless steel raw bar that’s all ice and white subway tiles. There’s also a great, fenced-in patio with plenty of tables, a comfy sofa, and canvas sail shades.
ON THE MENU My first time at the Oysterman (on that one winter day we had in late August), I ate for comfort on the patio with a heater on. A week later, in the sweltering heat, I ate for Tom Brady. Well, not exactly Brady, but for someone wanting to eat lower on the carb and fried side. While the menu is big on comfort foods, its raw bar, hummus, salads, and grilled fish are nice options when you want to be good.
“We tried to have something for everyone,” said Schweiger.
After those first oysters ($15), we had the steak egg rolls ($12). These hearty little pockets are packed with braised meat and melted cheese and served with a creamy dip that’s an upgrade on traditional duck sauce. The gorgeous shrimp and lobster scampi ($29) is a large bowl of shrimp and lobster meat over pasta in a delicious garlic wine sauce. The shrimp are perfectly cooked and all that wonderful lobster just a bit overdone.
The Oysterman’s fish and chips ($17) do its Irish owner (Loftus) proud and the popular Buffalo cauliflower ($9) converted my cauliflower-hating friend, with its flowerets deep-fried in a Buffalo-seasoned batter. The balsamic glaze drizzled over the lovely pan-seared salmon ($20 lunch/$25 dinner) isn’t mailed in: it’s pungent and sweet. The filet is served atop an arancini-like patty and fresh string beans. Linguini again, this time with clams ($19), is another delicious pasta dish.
The Oysterman doesn’t serve dessert, so why not walk around the corner and have a cookie at Loftus and Schweiger’s beautiful, brand new cafe, The Anchor (if it’s daytime; it closes before dinner). Or stroll through the landscaped pathway out back and have an ice cream at Farfar’s across the street. Everybody does.
The Oysterman, 30 Railroad Ave., Duxbury, 781-934-2900, www.anchorandoysterman.com.
Joan Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.