Cheap Eats

Dylan's Oyster Cellar

Dylan's Oyster Cellar4 W. Madison Ave., (443) 803-4341,

Dylan's Oyster Cellar, which recently opened up for a six-month span in the basement pop-up shop space called the Hatch, has cornered the Mount Vernon bivalve market in its first week-mainly because it's the only decent raw bar in the neighborhood. Oysters and booze comprise the limited menu here. Recognizing a bartender from a Hampden cocktail bar, we ordered the Cellar Sour (vodka, sweet vermouth, and egg white for $8). The concoction was foamy and light, but where was the citrus? The bitters? The sour? We didn't finish it. The oyster varieties were likewise hit-and-miss. An Island Creek from Massachusetts ($2.50) was salty at first and finished with an almost honeyed flavor; we could have ordered a whole tray. A Battle Creek ($2) from Virginia was olive-y at the start but developed Land O'Lakes butter notes as it went down. The Belon oyster ($3), a rare breed from Maine, was the size of a man's palm and tasted like a giant copper penny (blech!). Two kinds of Dylan's oysters-War Shores ($2) from Virginia and Skinny Dippers ($2) from Maryland-proved plain-tasting, neither distinctively briny or meaty or sweet. Presentation was fairly bare-bones, with the standard bed of ice, plus one lemon wedge, cocktail sauce, and horseradish. Service was better. When it came time to settle up, our congenial server sat down next to us (in a non-obtrusive way), iPad in hand, and admitted of the Square system of payment: "It's weird." When our dining companion asked her if she had an abacus instead, she enjoyed the joke.

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