Review: Sailor Oyster Bar

Sailor Oyster Bar in Annapolis is nautical—and nice.

Jane Marion - July 2017

Review: Sailor Oyster Bar

Sailor Oyster Bar in Annapolis is nautical—and nice.

Jane Marion - July 2017

Sardines and cocktails. -Tom McCorkle

What would you eat if you were stranded on a deserted island? That’s what Sailor Oyster Bar co-owner Scott Herbst asked himself when he came up with the concept for this adorable Naptown newbie that’s been serving up oysters—and other fruits of the bay and beyond—since last August. 

Set inside an early 1900s rowhouse in the heart of historic Annapolis, SOB (their acronym, not ours!) has no ovens, no stoves, no microwaves, not even a kitchen. Just a toaster oven, a blowtorch, and ingredients that get prepped in the intimate bar area. 

Herbst, who also co-owns Tsunami, a popular sushi spot down the street, accomplishes a lot with the limited parameters he has set for himself, and there’s tons of ingenuity at work here. In less able hands, this concept could easily be nothing more than gimmickry, but Herbst is a real pro.  

 The menu, featuring oysters from both coasts, various types of crudo, and ceviche, is a celebration of seafood. Highlights include a nod to what sailors ate on their voyages in the 18th and 19th centuries, in the form of trendy Jose Gourmet premium tinned fish, including crème de la crème Bemka white sturgeon caviar (to the tune of $75) served with salted butter, toast, and greens. Salads, “sammys,” snacks like torched octopus, and artisanal toasts round out the menu. (Okay, it’s likely that no one ever ate this well after a shipwreck, but we’re willing to give Herbst a little poetic license here.)

On an early May visit, we sampled a good cross section of the menu, including a seasonally inspired kale salad with goat cheese, strawberries, and spiced walnuts, and a wow-worthy charcuterie board piled high with mortadella, coppa, manchego, spiced nuts, and dabs of fig spread and avocado purée. A standout among standouts was the escolar crudo, a type of mackerel that Herbst describes as the “Camembert of the sea” because of its creamy quality. 

The crudo was served with a cucumber-avocado chimichurri that cut the richness of the fish and delivered a rush of fantastic flavor. Another favorite dish was the torched salmon toast, a novel take on lox and bagels featuring whipped cheese, Norwegian salmon, and dill topped with salmon roe on slices of baguette.   

Everything about the experience was intimate, from our jovial server, Frank, who told us, “My job is to make you happy,” to the vintage vibe—including black-and-white photographs of Herbst’s father and other family members who served in the Navy—and the classic Vargas-style pinup girls papering the bathroom walls. 

If we ever find ourselves shipwrecked, we can only hope that Herbst is on the manifest. 


The-Scoop.png#asset:37797

SAILOR OYSTER BAR 196 West Street, Annapolis, 410-571-5449. HOURS Tue.-Sun. 4-11 p.m. PRICES Snacks: $4-16; crudo: $14; tinned fish: $12-75; toast: $10-15. AMBIANCE Steampunk sailor. 





You May Also Like


Food & Drink

Review: Emma's Tea Spot

Keep calm and visit Emma’s Tea Spot in Hamilton.

In Good Taste

Owners of Wight Tea Co. Share New Flavors and Tips for Springtime Tea

Siblings Brittany and Joey Wight are infusing local tea scene with specialty blends and serious know how.

Food & Drink

Review: Bygone

Bygone takes nouvelle cuisine to soaring heights.


In Good Taste

414 Light Street Skyscraper to Offer a Variety of Food Options

Kippo Ramen is the first eatery to snag space at the luxe retail and residential property.

Food & Drink

Review: Chez Hugo Bistro

Steve Monnier’s Chez Hugo Bistro delights downtown with its focus on France.

In Good Taste

Young Foodie Nolan Morrison Appears in David Chang Video

It's 15 minutes of fame for a Govans fourth-grader.

Sardines and cocktails. -Tom McCorkle

Connect With Us

Most Read


Baltimore High School Students Show Off Coding Skills to Improve City Services: Following a showcase, one student was awarded an internship with the city.

Baltimore County to Open the Kevin Kamenetz Arena: The equine arena and learning center offers programs for veterans.

Ready Room to Open at Old Line Spirits in Highlandtown: Opening June 8, bar will be first of its kind inside a city distillery.

Open & Shut: The Charmery Towson; Food Network Shout Outs; Zack Mills Moves On: The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story: I had no idea I cared so much about how Han Solo met Chewbacca.