Boston's Row 34: Two lists worth sampling.

Eno Sarris, July 20, 2015

Just down the block from Trillium Brewing in Boston's Seaport neighborhood, there's a restaurant worth targeting when you visit the city. A restaurant worth making plans around -- in our case, a visit to the Children's Museum in the afternoon, and a quick walk through the rain a few blocks on one of our three days there. 

We’re Row 34. If we could eat oysters and drink beer for every meal period, we probably would. Professionals Only.

The first thing you'll see on their website is almost an admonishment. As a lover of oysters and great craft beer, I don't mind the first part. And the second part? Well, we traipsed in on a weekday around five, without a reservation, and sat outside with our two kids and all the crap that comes from traveling with two young kids. So I guess that part about Professionals Only just trying to set a scene. 

And it is a Professionals Only kind of scene anyway. Take a look at the header image -- oysters piled high, beers from Sweden and Belgium front and center, cement, metal, wood, ties, and men hiding from their dates, furiously typing on smart phones in the bathroom. These are Professionals. 

The various lists were professional. The raw list was a baker's dozen long -- our favorites were the Beach Points from Barnstable, full of taste, thick and almost peppery while still creamy -- and the beer list... well, that's why we are here. 

On the day we walked in, here's the list that was a sight for sore eyes: 

  • Rothaus Tannenzaepfle Pils
  • Jack's Abby House Lager
  • St. Bernardus Wit
  • Mystic New Day Rising Farmhouse
  • Logsdon Oak Aged Seizoen Bretta
  • Hoften Dormaal White Gold Belgian Blond 
  • Kent Falls Field Beer Saison
  • Downeast Original Blend Cider
  • Avery Lillikoi Kepolo Passionfruit Wit
  • Omnipollo Onda Mosaic Pale
  • Port Brewing Sumer Pale
  • Stillwater Stereo IPA
  • Maine Beer Lunch IPA
  • Stone RuinTen DIPA
  • Evil Twin Mission Gose
  • The Tap Intergalactic Acid Berliner Weisse
  • Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam Wild Farmhouse
  • Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Flanders Red
  • Drie Fonteinen Sour Porter
  • Kazematten Grotten Sante Belgian Brown Ale
  • The Bruery Mischief Belgian Strong Golden Ale
  • Hoften Dormaal Barrel-Aged Project: No. 3 Madeira Belgian Strong Ale 
  • BFM La Mandragore Stout
  • Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Oatmeal Stout

That's a Professional list. Sure, I think the Stillwater Stereo is a woof, and I'm not in love with Hoften Dormaal, but between Lunch, and Jacobins, and Omnipollo, there are a lot of hard-to-get great beers here. And look how well-balanced the list is, with sours both light and dark, tarts both thin and thick, pales both big and little, browns and blacks, barrel aged -- and from everywhere, with six countries and seven states represented, as far-ranging as Switzerland and Oregon. 

By liberally ordering for others and myself, I had the Jack's Abby, the Kent Saison, the Maine Lunch, the Omnipollo Onda, the Lilikoi Keppolo, and the Drie Fonteinen Sour Porter. I knew the Lunch would be good, and I didn't love the Kent Saison -- it was tart and sweet and not quite thick enough to be on my list of best saisons -- but there were highlights.

The Onda was fruity and thick and a great showcase for Omnipollo's unique spin that was once at the forefront of the fruity and thick combo that you might taste at a Sainte Adairius or a Trillium these days. The Lillikoi Kepolo was just... fun. Maybe too sweet for some, but nice and bright and really the style lends itself to this kind of thing. All worth the somewhat substantial price of entry.

Worth it even if the Drie Fonteinen sour porter didn't stand up to the Almanac version I'd had before -- not tart enough. Worth it even if not every oyster was good. Worth it if the huge clams were kind of gross. Worth if even if the pasta gave me stomach problems later. Worth it even if there was no Trillium on tap -- too much demand for Trillium beers, apparently. 

Worth it to have some professionals put together a great raw list, a great beer list, a great experience -- even if they weren't necessarily serving professionals that day.