Let me tell you about 167 Raw: it’s perfect. I’m not the first person to figure this out, as you can tell from the long list of people saying the same thing–Bon Appétit, Eater, The Local Palate, random folks on the street. It’s cozy and beautiful with genuinely friendly folks at the door, behind the bar, and everywhere else. Oh, and the food happens to be AMAZING. Yes, all-caps-level amazing. Just take a look at this lobster roll and you’ll see what I’m saying.
But let me back up. My friend, Jessica, and I planned a working lunch at 167 Raw. She was craving the lobster roll and I am a sucker for oysters. It was a gorgeous day, I found a parking spot immediately (!!), and I was about to catch up with a girlfriend. What more could I ask for? How about the rosé of the day? Yes, please.
That’s not just any rosé, by the way. The folks at 167 Raw offer excellent wines you don’t expect to find by the glass. I love being able to sample something unique and delicious without having to buy an entire bottle to give it a taste. This particular rosé was the perfect pairing for the raw oysters I ordered up next.
For Starters . . .
The raw bar has a daily menu of oysters, organized by their size and saltiness, which is genius. I left the choosing to the experts, with the only caveat being that whatever they served up be “super salty.” They were: A half dozen Thatch Island and Standish Shore oysters, briny as briny can be, with one of the best mignonettes I’ve come across. Something about the vinegar and fairy dust of that mignonette brought out the flavors of the oysters in the most perfect way. I know a lot of folks go with cocktail sauce and horseradish, but trust me on this. Mignonette, all the way.
Did I mention that Jessica was running late? Giving me more time to try out the menu? Well, she was, and I was hungry. So, next up, gazpacho! I will be honest, I’m not a huge gazpacho fan. But it was hot outside and a chilled soup with ginger-poached shrimp sounded like a good idea. It was. This isn’t your run-of-the mill, tomato-based gazpacho. It’s shrimp and carrots and a drizzle of olive oil and, really, just flat-out delicious.
All the Rest . . .
I was about halfway through the gazpacho when Jessica arrived, and now she was the one who was starving. Lobster roll for her, carnitas taco for me. Let’s talk about the lobster roll. It’s pricey at $27, but it is A LOT of lobster. And it’s on a brioche bun. And is insanely good. Because Jessica is a generous, kind person, she insisted that I try a bite. All I can say is, if I had ordered that and had it all to myself, I’m not sure I could have been as generous of heart and plate as she was.
Fortunately, I had carnitas to distract me from the buttery brioche lobster goodness. Are you wondering why I ordered pork at a raw bar? I wondered that myself, at first. But I love carnitas and the carnitas at 167 Raw are real carnitas, as in slow cooked, then fried for an extra bit of crunchiness. They are heaven in a corn tortilla. End of story.
But not end of lunch! For the record, my daily life does not involve fancy lunches with wine, lobster and oysters. Case in point: today’s spread of leftover veggie soup, Ritz crackers, and water from a Mason jar. That said, when the opportunity presents itself, why not make the most of it? We finished off lunch with a slice of key lime pie. Served up plain and simple, it artfully balanced sweet, salty, and sour and was the perfect end to a lovely lunch.
Are you hungry yet? Get over to 167 Raw pronto. I hear they have a rosé with your name on it.
167 Raw, 289 E. Bay St., Mon.-Sat. 11-10, 843.579.4997, www.167raw.com