AHOY Mate!

Welcome to the Sailor Oyster Bar!

AHOY Mate!  In Annapolis, it is not uncommon to hear one say “Only eat Oysters in months that end in R” but that is one maritime myth that has washed out to sea with time.  The message in the bottle is with farmed oysters, you can eat them anytime of the year.  Annapolis is always on the fence between traditional and trendy.  She delicately blends both with a spoonful of historic preservation lined with maritime memories.  It came as no surprise when we heard a new Oyster Bar was coming to our port to celebrate the Sea and the Sailor.  It was long overdue.  We waited with anticipation for the day the doors opened for Sailor Oyster Bar at 196 West Street, two months ago.

Nothing at Sailor Oyster Bar fits the typical Downtown Annapolis Restaurant mold.  From the minute you walk in, you feel like you are walking into a maritime museum carefully preserved in a contemporary living room.  Much like many Annapolitan living rooms, so you instantly feel at home. 

The décor was carefully chosen to give a small, intimate feel.  The bar was made from a Pennsylvania Maple Tree, the only electrical appliances are the Toaster Ovens, Blow Torch, and Coffee Pot, and the bar stools are above the waist of the average person.  Let’s talk a bit more about those bar stools.  Reminding you of the mushrooms in Alice in Wonderland, they put your view of the restaurant in a different perspective.  Like a hike in the mountains, the climb to the top offers a view that makes it all worth it.  You sit high above the restaurant which provides a rewarding view of the assembly of each dish and offers a bird’s eye view of their Farm to Table assembly.

Sailor Oyster Bar is Farm to Table and Table to Farm.  Their fish is the freshest quality you can get, ordered from a local, regional company and when they are done, the shells go back to the Chesapeake Bay.  Sailor Oyster Bar is a member of Oyster Recovery Partnership.  All of their shells, no matter what part of the world they came from, will become a home for future oysters to grow in our Chesapeake Bay.  An oyster will make a bed in any shell, no matter where it came from.  Sailor Oyster Bar supports local.  They order from local companies and they make all of their sauces in-house.  You may never find an oyster there twice simply because the rotation is to ensure that they are serving the freshest oysters possible.

Sailor Oyster Bar is known for their selection of wines but my night began with their house beer, the RAR Sailor Cream Ale.  A Nitro beer brewed just for them by RAR Brewing Company in Cambridge, MD.  You won’t find this unique beer anywhere else.  Like a light Guinness, the secret is in the pour and they have a special spout to make sure they get it just right.  This beer will awaken your senses, with a hint of nutmeg, and it will leave you with a beer mustache like a milkshake.

We dove into the main attraction, which naturally, was a large plate of oysters.  I’m a local oyster gal so we started with my comfort zone – Chincoteague.  I had to let it go for this adventure but I was delightfully enlightened.  We started with the Kaipara Oysters from New Zealand.  A buttery introduction washed away with a backhanded dip in the Sea.  Next stop on this passport was the Malpque Oysters from Canada.  As owner Scott Herbst recommended, I tried this one without their house-made cocktail sauce, house-made Minuet, or house-made hot sauce, which is spectacular I must say.  By itself, the taste was a full-bodied flavor with medium salt that provided a quick and smooth finish.  Clean.  He was right.  Try one without the toppings first to really taste the oyster.  As different as the shells look in so many beautiful shapes and sizes, they each have their own unique taste.  See each region in the shell, taste each region in the oyster.

Raw Clams here are no different.   Today’s fresh catch was from Rhode Island.  Scott’s recommendation was to add both the house Minuet and the house hot sauce.  Complimentary was not a strong enough word.  The mixture pulled the sweet, flowery taste to the front then it strikes you with a burst of an Annapolis exotic island, leaving you wanting more.

The menu lists items you will not see often in Annapolis.   There is a section just for “Tin Fish” with Sardines, Anchovies, Calamari, and Octopus.  Rich in protein and flavor, Scott got the idea from a restaurant in New York and it is working.  I personally like Sardines so I was not opposed to trying the Jose Gourmet Sardines.  The presentation was unique.  Simple yet eloquent.  Each comes with its own artwork which has been incorporated into the presentation.  Layer the chive butter, sardines, and arugula on the toast and you will never believe that you are eating sardines out of a can.  It’s a petite sandwich fit for a queen.

We skipped to the main courses of the menu which in our case was the sushi grade Yellowtail.  Like a sushi roll, it is designed to have every flavor in every bite to get the full effect.  The presentation of this dish is not complicated and there are only 4 ingredients but I highly recommend you include one of each in every bite.  It’s like a staged production where every flavor plays a part.  Sweet, savory, and soft like a flower petal but it moves you to the next stage with a tingle, followed by heat, and then POW.  There is a lot going on in this dish, if assembled the right way. 

Not the fancy schmancy type?  I highly recommend the high on flavor, low on cost “bloney sandwich” with creamy, spicy mayo.  This sandwhich is packed with a pistachio “bloney” that fills you up and is anything but boring.

Dessert, oh yes they have it.  Do not leave without trying the Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles.  These vegan, date truffles with Sea Salt are made locally by pastry chef Emily Black and they just melt in your mouth.  Like sneaking into the Christmas Stocking before Christmas, these powerful truffles blend the sunset to the sea perfectly with a rewarding yet almost naughty feeling of guilt.  If you can believe you can taste something before actually biting into it, believe it.

A trip to Sailor Oyster Bar wouldn’t be complete without one of their Craft Cocktails.  West Street is known for art and this crew sails that way with focus and tolerance.  Like their plates, each drink is carefully assembled to WOW the customer.  Pictures before you take a sip are a must.

A trip to Sailor Oyster Bar wouldn’t be complete without one of their Craft Cocktails.  West Street is known for art and this crew sails that way with focus and tolerance.  Like their plates, each drink is carefully assembled to WOW the customer.  Pictures before you take a sip are a must.

From the Hawaiian Elvis with the Peanut Butter and Banana touch to the Broken Hearted where the drink wears its broken heart for all to see.  Making these drinks takes skill and this crew has the seasoned skills needed to help you find your way without a compass.                                   

Sailor Oyster Bar may be the new kid on the West Street block but they run a tight ship that is here to stay.  Equiped with a crew that has worked together for years, the quality in their work shows pefection.  This is what happens when you love what you do and you love where you work.  It’s working.  Welcome to town Sailor Oyster Bar!