Sunday, September 14, 2008

America's Oldest Restaurant

One of the Peppermint Squad's most esteemed epicures is a Yamaha Vino rider who goes by the code name "Oyster Stew." Though not a soup man, Oyster Stew, or "Stewie" as he's known in the heat of battle, parks his tricked out burgundy and aluminum Vino in front of the Holocaust Memorial in Haymarket when he pops into the Union Oyster House every Wednsesday night.

The shuckers expect his arrival between 7:00 and 7:15 and they reserve a seat at the raw bar. He has been a regular at the Oyster House for a decade and a half. He doesn't take vacations or leave Boston on Wednesdays which means he is the longest continous customer. He has no business that takes him out of town during the week.

In the 1990's Stewie used to order up a plate of Narragansett little necks but the crop turned south in the summer of 1997. Never order shellfish in months that don't contain the letter 'r' in thier names. After weathering a bout of the 'Narragansett Trots' that was the bane of many a New England oyster affecianado, Stewie switched to Delaware cherrystones. They didn't quite do the trick so in 1999 the man named Oyster Stew sampled the gamut of oyster varieties the world's harbors offer. If it is a bivalve classified by Linneas, our man has tasted its flesh.

Since 2005, Oyster Stew sticks to Prince Edward Isle oysters; wild, not farmed. They are not as good as the Stonington (Conn.) three points he remembers from when he was a tyke but they'll do the job just fine when washed down with the appropriate accompaniment. Oyster Stew doesn't take his standing order of a bakers' dozen with cocktail sauce or lemon. He eats his oysters with a pint of hard cider at the ready and on the side. Daniel Webster would be proud.

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