When you walk through the doors of Sailor Oyster Bar (SOB) you are taken back to simpler times with a comfortable wooden bar, exposed pipes, and an overall vintage feel. The walls, decorated with black and white photos, pay homage to the region’s rich naval history. The bathrooms, even, are plastered with mid-20th-century pin-up style photos and old school advertisements. The entire place is tied together aesthetically, all the way down to the striped shirts worn by the crew presenting a unique nautical experience down to the oysters they serve you.
No oven? No stove? No microwave, even? No problem! One curious feature of SOB is the fact that there isn’t a kitchen. Owner, Scott Herbst, challenged himself to go as barebones as possible, attempting to build a menu based on the question: what would I eat if I was stranded after a shipwreck? Using only a blow torch, a toaster, and a gifted team of food artists to prepare all the dishes, the menu offers a smorgasbord of plates from cheese boards, to tasty salads, from tantalizing sammys and toasts to a bicoastal oyster selection. Staying true to the shipwreck scenario they utilize preserved and canned foods, but don’t let that muddle your perspective – all of the food comes out tasting as fresh as can be.
What would I eat if I was stranded after a shipwreck?
I started with a cheeseboard. Complete with artisanal bread, fig spread, old bay nuts, olives, and preserved beets, the board showcased a New York cheddar, a Chesapeake cheddar, and a creamy gouda. Then I moved on to an arugula salad with candied bacon, parmesan chips, rye croutons, and local herbs. Based on our bartender’s recommendation, my friend ordered the crab toast–featuring a Maryland crab, corn puree, caviar, and tomatoes resting on the same delicious artisanal bread. Everything is prepared in the bar area, where you can watch the team artfully build all of the dishes.
The respect and love for delicious seafood are evident but especially clear in the Crudo and oyster sections. The Crudo options offer guests an opportunity to grab some tasty bites prepared completely from the raw bar with a thoughtfully sourced, high-quality tinned fish selection.
The typical understanding of happy hour is an after-work, weekday, short window where you can enjoy discounted food and drinks to wind down your day. SOB rises above and beyond for this beloved tradition, continuing the fun not only into the weekend but on Sunday you can enjoy happy hour all day long. Why limit happy to an hour, am I right? Their happy hour menu consists of $5 draft beers and wines and select oysters for only $1. For the final round of food during my last visit, I indulged in some local Warshores and Battle Creeks from Virginia. Each served on the half shell, were shucked behind the bar, and as always, accompanied by a house-made hot sauce, vinegar, and cocktail sauce.
This happy hour spot is not one to miss. Everything about the experience of SOB is engaging. Being able to witness preparation process, especially with the lack of kitchen, is both entertaining and entrancing. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, encouraging you to ask questions about the unique menu. The quality and thought that goes into the ingredient selection make the whole shipwreck concept possible and, indeed, delicious. Come by and dip your feet in the water, wet your whistle, and enjoy yourself at this one-of-a-kind Annapolis restaurant.