I have been keeping an eye out for these guys for a long time. They did not disappoint. And I don’t know how they do it with just a cooler full of oysters and an open flame.
Guest Post written by dear friend, Matt Baker:
Your esteemed editor invited me to write a few words about the “oyster pop up” mentioned in her W.C. Harlan’s post. Now, I love a good meal but I could care less about the china and which fork to use for which course and the protocol for sampling the wine before you drink it. So, when I hear oysters and other goodies on paper plates with plastic utensils in a tent on a sidewalk on an exceedingly random block in Remington, sign me up.
Full disclosure, this was an opportunity for me to redeem myself. When Dylan’s Oyster Cellar was open in The Hatch in Mount Vernon–literally 30 seconds from my apartment– for much of the last year, I never went. Talked about going all the time but failed to actually go…which is all the more sad now that I’ve had the opportunity to sample Dylan’s fantastic ideas (cue banging head on desk).
Dylan and staff set up outside W.C. Harlan’s for two weekends in December. After setting ourselves up with cocktails inside the bar
, we went outside to the tent to get some dinner. You’d expect the oysters to be fantastic–they were. More on that in a second. But, the small-plate-like sides might have been even better.
We started with grilled spring onions; simple enough. Yet, when topped with a spicy vaguely southeast Asian chili sauce…well, damn. I think there might have been peanuts involved; there was definitely something nutty that really pulled the sauce together.
Next, we tried another fantastic, simple, flavorful plate: grilled sardines on toast. A lot of people hear sardine and run. But, these were melt-in-your-mouth good. Not so much salty as sweet.
Lastly, beans. Dear Lord, the beans. Wow, beans. We had a running commentary trying to figure out just what was in these beans. And, we all assumed there had to be some kind of cured pig in there. Turns out, none at all. Chef cooks down onions and garlic and shallots into a base until so concentrated, we mistook it for pig. Maybe we just have untrained palates or maybe he’s just very sneaky and very talented.
As for the oysters. They were offering two varieties that night, a briny, tastes-like-ocean from off Cape Cod and a sweeter, more delicate local oyster from the Bay (Sweet Baby Jesus, maybe?). You could get them both raw and grilled. Raw oysters with a spritz of lemon, always one of my favorites. But, grilled oysters, a bit of an unknown quantity for me. No longer. Abby found out the hard way that grilled oysters are hot (be careful!). But, as long as you didn’t scald the roof of your mouth on bubbling oyster liqueur, they’re absolutely amazing.
Dylan’s is planning a new, I hope permanent, location to open sometime in 2015. I, for one, cannot wait.