Photo by Kevin A. Roberts
The looks say it all as dishes arrive at tables: “What have I gotten myself into?” Baskets overflow with plump shrimp, lobster, or blue crabs crusted in Old Bay seasoning, accompanied by potatoes, andouille, and Brussels sprouts. This is serious eating in a place happily devoted to the subject.
The Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. (1831 Sidney, 314-772-8858) is chef Kevin Nashan’s latest venture. (His other well-known restaurant, Sidney Street Café, is down the block.) Peacemaker is a Casco Bay lobster shack crossed with an Iberville Street oyster house. It manages to capture the seafood joints that populate the Gulf shore, New Orleans, and New England. There are concrete floors, weathered rafters, and a small oyster bar. Dishes must pass the inspection of a steely-eyed aboyeur, part of a polished staff.
Companion Bakery supplies bread for the lobster roll and poorboys. It’s an inspired choice. The roll is a thick brioche—split, buttered, and toasted—stuffed with what looks like an entire lobster’s best parts. The poorboys are even better. Oysters, catfish, or shrimp—batter-fried to golden perfection—are wedged into crusty, light baguettes with tomatoes and lettuce.
A tin mug of chowder is exemplary, with thick nubbins of chopped clam in a delightfully smoky bacon-smacked slurry. The gumbo is thin and lackluster. A constantly changing menu of oysters is absolutely recommended. (There were Blue Points and Wellfleets on our visit.)
Peacemaker’s most beautifully simple offering: a bucket of mussels. Fat, sweet, and scented with garlic, the mussels are accompanied by spectacular slabs of grilled, buttered bread. Steamers get a similar presentation, clattering in a light broth. Inexplicably, there’s no drawn butter, an odd unforced error. (Another disappointment here: The lobster tastes boiled rather than steamed, which compromises taste and texture.)
Poached eggs and fried oysters topping a frisée Lyonnaise salad are exceptional. Green tomatoes are quick-pickled before being fried, lending a piquant bite. Hush puppies are doughnut light with an interesting hint of paprika.
Pass on the snow-cone desserts, but don’t miss a Derby pie with soft-shell ice cream that’s a study in sweet textures. Beer and wine selections are fine; slushy cocktails get well-deserved acclaim, especially their Dark (rum) & Stormy (ginger beer) concoction.
Peacemaker doesn’t accept reservations, so prime dining time waits can be daunting. (Consider using the NoWait app.) If you’re waiting, the main bar helps you pass the time more pleasantly—and seafood of this caliber is always worth a bit of patience.
The Bottom Line: The friendly, informal, and inevitably crowded hot spot serves some of the city’s best seafood.