Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.
Billing itself as “New England’s first oyster, crudo, and chop bar,” the menu at Brine certainly lives up to the diverse nature of that claim. The first order of business at this Newburyport raw bar is to definitely secure a reservation in advance, especially for their popular Thursday night “Buck-a- Shuck” where $1 oysters are offered from 5-7.
The dining room is narrow, with a pristine marble bar running almost the entire length from which patrons can observe the evening’s assortment of oyster species being prepared to order. There is the option of upgrading to the “Power Tower,” a galleon of plump, briny raw oysters, littlenecks, and jumbo shrimp, perfect as an appetizer alongside a bottle of slightly chilled Chablis.
Other raw dishes include composed crudo plates including halibut with meyer lemon, crème fraiche, shallot, and hot peppers, as well as a superlative steak tartare that utilizes prime meat. The warm lobster salad with cauliflower, curry, and tarragon buttermilk is the perfect “surf” to precede the “turf” of their 16oz bone-in ribeye with cheddar potato dauphine and horseradish crema.
The wine selection at this Newburyport raw bar is appropriate, leaning towards Burgundy, Alsace, and Austria for the whites, while favoring more new world producers with the reds – or if you may be in the mood to manhandle a few Coors Lites they can accommodate that craving as well.
It is refreshing to see that Brine offers traditional Russian-style caviar service, serving both American Hackleback, as well as a rotating nightly feature, by the half ounce. It arrives with the proper mother of pearl spoon, with a setup of minced shallot, crème fraiche, and chopped boiled egg, all to be piled along with the caviar on to buttermilk blini (which are actually quite delicious just on their own).
While this Newburyport raw bar can get a little pricey, each week they feature a 2-course meal for $25 per person on Wednesday nights.
25 State Street | Newburyport | (978) 358-8479 | brineoyster.com