By Jillian Bedell
18 Central Oyster Bar and Grill in Rockport is the kind of beautiful neighborhood restaurant you want to visit every Sunday evening, to reassure you that there is still actual civility in the world. It’s a shining, warm space with dark wooden interiors, a gleaming bar, and an open kitchen with a grill that spits fire like a medieval dragon. It’s a great big room with little nooks and corners for conversation.
Malcolm: I had spent only a handful of nights at Shepard’s Pie, the previous tenant at 18 Central Street, but I don’t remember ever feeling this simultaneous sensation of showbusiness and coziness; the open kitchen of the redesigned space provides the perfect working stage for Chef/Owner Patrick Duffy, the banging of knives chopping, the giant iron cooking grate creaking as it is hoisted up and down over an open flame by an enormous cogwheel, the impeccably-dressed sous chefs clustering, observing, and springing into action as needed. Inside 18 Central, there is both the sense of theater you get from a kitchen like this, while the rest of the room also offers quiet spaces for couples looking for calm.