The restaurant business is tough. We’ve lived in Montgomery for almost three years now, and a great number of places we reviewed over at Lost in Montgomery have closed. For some establishments, we have felt, frankly, that this was for the best. For others, like the Capitol Oyster Bar, we were genuinely sad. For a city so close to delicious and fresh Gulf oysters, Montgomery’s not especially long on places where you can go and sit down for a few dozen and a cold beer. Sure, the downtown Wintzell’s is pretty good (and the happy hour $5 dozen is a genuinely good deal, even if they tend to give you the smaller ones), but it’s fairly expensive. The Young Barn Pub and Oyster Bar is newer on the scene, but the less said about that place, the better. Used to be, there was only one place in town to go get a dozen in a place with authentic atmosphere.
The Capitol Oyster Bar was out on the Boulevard and had the honest and rugged charm of a roadhouse or a honkytonk. We heard a rumor that it was in a building that was once a Pizza Hut, and that makes sense. But they did a nice job of purging the giant corporate chain atmosphere and making the place a welcoming, gritty restaurant with great fresh seafood and (on some nights) live music.
Then there were the rumors – COB was closed. No, it was open. No, it was closed again. Then, it was open! We weren’t sure what to believe. Until a few weeks ago we went for dinner and found that the building was now occupied by some sort of daiquiri lounge called Chill. And then there were more rumors, this kind quite hopeful. Could it be that the COB would find a new home at the Marina?
Dear readers, we are happy to tell you that the latest batch of rumors are true. The COB’s new home is on Shady Street, embracing one of Montgomery’s best places for a restaurant in all its half-shell goodness. A Montgomery institution lives on in a new location. Sure, the menu seems to be working its kinks out – and there’s no liquor license yet (evidently August 2nd is the City Council meeting to sort that out – let your rep know you approve, if you want to drink beer out at the Marina like all good-hearted people). But there’s still a good dozen to be had for $9.95, and the venue is just as good looking as it ever was. Montgomery so rarely takes advantage of the beautiful river on which it was built, and this is a nice place to sit with some boats and the city’s skyline in the background.
Although we are usually wary of tartar sauce, they do something to their version of the condiment that makes it a creamy and delicious departure from what you usually get with a fish entree. The fried catfish was quite good and the service was top notch. On a recent lunch, we arrived a bit before the doors were due to open and the good folks let us come on in and sit until they got things going, serving us tea and letting us soak up the air conditioning.
We hear that the outdoor area is going to be turned into some kind of amphitheater to bring in good, big-time live music acts – something Montgomery really needs, given the limitations of existing venues. We are all for this. Anything that involves good music, fresh oysters, loads of horseradish and hot sauce (and beer), we can easily support.
The owners also purchased the marina itself (boat slips and all), and a riverboat, which they say is open for rental for special events. Check out their site (which includes menus and and directions) here.
Midtown’s old favorites for seafood — Jubilee, Destin Connection (3750 Norman Bridge Road) — aren’t going anywhere and remain as good as ever. But even though it’s a brief drive outside of the Midtown area proper, we’re glad the Capitol Oyster Bar is back.
Welcome back, COB!
Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.