Great Bay is dead; long live the Island Creek Oyster Bar. The bar is a collaboration between Skip Bennett (Island Creek Oysters), Jeremy Sewall (Lineage, Eastern Standard, right next door), and Garrett Harker (also from Eastern Standard), and the hounds are using a whole lot of exclamation points to describe it.
"Hallelujah! Boston needed this so badly!" emotes suzysue2, adding that the seafood compares favorably with Neptune's, but the restaurant has the added bonus of taking reservations, unlike Neptune's.
So what of the seafood? It's as fresh as springtime, particularly the oysters. Of the eight to ten varieties on the menu, about half are from Massachusetts and the rest from elsewhere on the East Coast, including a wild oyster that rlove deemed delicious. The prices range from $2 to $3 apiece. Grilled razor clams and fried halibut cheeks are tasty, like a mini fish and chips, says suzysue2. The lobster roll is of the cold/mayo variety, light on the mayo and celery and with plenty of good lobster hunks. House-made chips come on the side.
On the non-seafood track, the pork shank is falling-apart tender and served with a complex sauce, and the lobster roe pasta with short ribs is "rich and delicious," says suzy.
The proprietors have done over the cavernous space in soothing grays and blues, with a big, open bar space in the front with about a dozen high-top tables, and regular seating further back. Prices are on the splurge side, with soups around $10, fish and chips $18, fish mains in the $25 range. The wine list is large, adventurous, and veering to white, with bottles starting at $30. Not much word yet on the cocktails, but the management has imported talent from many of the high-toned bars in town, so they're probably worth a look.
Island Creek Oyster Bar [Fenway]
500 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston