The access-type road that you take to get to the Capitol Oyster Bar runs along the Boulevard and must feature Montgomery’s single most dangerous traffic intersection. Norman Bridge crosses the Boulevard in an insane orgy of unmarked roads and lanes that twine together in an improbable pattern and is, seemingly, constantly traversed by an army of escaped mental patients in brightly painted cars. It doesn’t help that the ABC store is on the access road, meaning many veering nuts swigging from just-purchased bottles. Or, also, that the super-shady Diplomat Inn (no doubt, where visiting diplomats stay) is on the corner.
If you’re brave enough to venture down here you’re going to encounter what is probably Montgomery’s finest oyster joint, a place that rivals all of the other oyster joints we’ve ever been to (and that, dear readers, is a LOT of oyster joints, this being the food that has caused at least one of us to fall off the vegetarian wagon many many many many times, finally being grandfathered in as a “sometimes” food because it meets the new “no eyes” rule – yes, we know that’s a dodge, don’t write us citing the collected works of Peter Singer, please). The Capitol Oyster Bar holds its own against all of our national oyster bar experiences in terms of both quality and price.
Calling The Capitol Oyster Bar unassuming is sort of like saying that Augusts in Alabama are a bit on the warm side, or that Nick Saban is well paid. It’s a straight up, unapologetic dive that looks as if it hasn’t changed appreciably in 30 years. The menus are also your paper placemats, tea is served in clear plastic cups, and there are televisions in the corners of the room showing various sporting events. The lights are low, but not dim. Ephemera covers the wall where the bar and kitchen entrance is. Food choices are reasonably limited – basically, it’s seafood that you can order fried or prepared in a few other ways, on a platter or a sandwich or just peel & eat, along with the usual sides like cole slaw and fries, hush puppies, etc. There’s a hamburger plate for the contrarians.
If you wanted a 50-page menu you’d have gone to the damn Cheesecake Factory like the bourgeois pig you are. In a place like this a larger menu would only insult you, or even fill you with despair. After all, you’re here because you’re looking to devour some serious oysters – the kind that overflow your hand just a little bit and magically taste like the sea, even better with a little lemon, and even better with some horseradish. Horseradish which is so good that it seems like maybe you’ve never even had horseradish before, like how can horseradish taste this good? That’s what you’re here for. And you won’t be disappointed.
Oysters are market priced ($8.50 a dozen when we were there, but check out what a good deal the bushel is at only $50), expertly shucked, and served on plastic cafeteria trays. No fancy piles of crushed ice for this meal – that kind of nonsense is for people who don’t really eat oysters and prefer to stack them artfully or smother them in mignonette or some other awful thing that ought to be a war crime. Your oysters might be so mind-bendingly delicious that you find yourself needing another dozen. Go ahead – you deserve it. You’ve been ever so good.
The other thing of note in addition to the great food, is that the C.O.B. is also a thriving nightspot. There’s good blues music at just the right volume over the speakers when we ate there around 7 or so on a Wednesday, but the waitress told us to check out the live blues music on Thursday nights, when you can just tell the place gets really crowded and it turns into a pretty cool divey bar with a big outdoor patio. We’ll have to report back in another post after we explore this place while it is functioning in this capacity.
NOTE: Capitol Oyster Bar is closed on Mondays. Plan accordingly so you don’t get your heart broken.