Food & Drink

Canton's Raw Bar and Raw & Refined Can Be Hard to Tell Apart

The overlaps run even deeper than the comically similar names.

[Editor’s Note: Since press time, Raw & Refined has closed for the season, but will remain open for private parties and events until it resumes regular hours in April.]

The overlaps between Raw Bar and Raw & Refined—two Canton waterfront establishments that opened within days and feet of each other earlier this year—run even deeper than their comically similar names.

For starters, both put an emphasis on raw seafood, from oysters to ceviche. Then there are the cocktail menus, which each include a Paloma, sangria, and several other sweet, tropical libations that people tend to crave when they’re drinking in the great outdoors. (In this case, at Lighthouse Point along the Patapsco River.) Both are trying to succeed in locations where previous restaurants died, pinning their hopes on what the former inhabitants did as well: the irresistible allure of eating and drinking outside near the water.

Raw Bar (2809 Boston St., 443-708-7961) brought to you by the team that runs Barcocina and Bond Street Social, is in the home of the former Boathouse Canton. It’s a sprawling complex that includes ample outdoor seating, a semi-enclosed outdoor bar, and indoor dining room and bar. In addition to its namesake, Raw Bar offers shared plates and an array of New England-style seafood sandwiches. On our visits, twenty and thirty-somethings sat at the outdoor bar, while music competed with loud conversations.

During one outing in July, our friendly server offered a blank stare when we asked what differentiated the oysters available that night, which struck us as odd for a place named Raw Bar. A beer, one Sagamore lemonade—a whiskey, honey, simple syrup, mint, and lemonade concoction that was unremarkable but inoffensive—and a half-dozen oysters cost $44, including tax and tip; a setting this sublime doesn’t come cheaply.

Nor does it at the nearly adjacent Raw & Refined (2723 Lighthouse Pte., 410-387- 4377) where the cocktails are meticulously made. The indoor space is cheerful, and the restaurant’s delightful outdoor bar is adjacent to a pool and overlooks a marina.

It doesn’t get more nautical than that. Most of the cocktails we’ve tried have been quite refreshing, including Telly’s melon seltzer ($11), a combination of watermelon vodka, watermelon, basil, simple syrup, and lime. While the restaurant is better run than Button, the space’s previous inhabitant, the food can be hit or miss. Best to sit outside, soak up the scene, and stick to dishes like tuna tartare, which, of course, is served raw.