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Thought for food: Casual dining near Fenway, but ballpark food it’s not

By Sarah Moomaw, journalism, ’13

Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar, a chic neighborhood tavern located behind Fenway Park, hits a home run with patrons who seek moderately priced cuisine in a casual atmosphere.

The cozy restaurant is bathed in candlelight and outfitted with cast iron tables, deep booths and a sprawling bar. Daily specials are written on a chalkboard.

Oysters, $12, and clams, $11, are available on the half shell or fried and served with a house dipping sauce.

“Snacks” — quick, salty bites, like the ham and cheese biscuit with mustard gelee — go for $5 and are made to prepare the palette for what’s to come.

“Starters,” which include soups and salads, are perfectly portioned. The Field Green and Rhubarb Salad ($8), topped with goat cheese and grapefruit vinaigrette, is light and fresh, but lacks a strong, citrus-like kick from the dressing.

For the meat-lover, Citizen offers a robust selection of “Roasts,” including ribs, pork tenderloin and a rack of lamb in the $18 to $22 range, plus two classic burgers:  ground sirloin ($14) and tuna ($16).

The main courses include a variety of dishes that will please anyone’s taste buds. The grilled Atlantic sole ($20), for example, is served warm over a bed of toasted faro with peas and a salsa verde, whose citrus zest brings out the flavor of the fish. The grainy texture of the faro contrasts nicely with the light, flaky sole.

Citizen pays homage to southern fried chicken with its Duck Fat Fried Game Hen ($19), a juicy bird whose skin soaks up the rich flavor of the fat. The bird is seasoned, fried whole and served with corn spoon bread on top of a light pool of gravy—a meal big enough for tomorrow’s leftover lunch.

Deciding whether to tackle the bird with your fingers or with a knife and fork is a lot of fun.

For $380, parties of 10 or more can enjoy a family-style pig roast, which includes fresh oysters, whipped Yukon Gold potatoes and a whole suckling pig that is slow-roasted for 14 hours.

Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar is located at 1310 Boylston Street. For reservations, call 617-450-9000.