When the first hints of summer emerge, I crave the beach and raw oysters. Since I can’t be at the beach just yet, at least the food of the sea can be brought to me. The city offers several spots for oysters and clams, ranging from moderate to expensive in price. It just depends on the atmosphere you seek and the quality you deserve.
You might say that only the freshest seafood will do, but I argue that you shouldn’t have to rent a fifteen foot schooner to get it. Now there are many trendy restaurants that will offer you a spectacular plateau de fruits de mer, a three-tiered shellfish extravaganza with all the trimmings. You will pay through the nose. If this is your plan, head over to Balthazar, Markt, Ocean Grill, City Crab and the like.
I prefer fast and easy, good quality and the right price. I think of the times I spent at Acme Oyster Bar in New Orleans, a no fuss, straight up oyster depot where you can gorge on crawfish and buckets of oysters. If there was a branch in New York, I’d be permanently planted. The obvious choice here is the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station. This old standby has an extensive variety of oysters at reasonable prices and should serve as the barometer for the rest of the oyster bars. Choose from west coast to east coast, and enjoy a glass of white wine with your tour.
I went fishing for some more oysters on Memorial Day. Many places were closed, but I rambled into Fish while shopping for cheese at Murray’s. There were several good deals involving beer and oyster specials, and although the atmosphere was dim, the seafood was just fine.
Later that week I traipsed into Pearl Oyster Bar after shopping at Ottomanelli’s, and those oysters were vibrant and a cut above the rest. The oysters at the Neptune Room are very bright and delicious, offering solid choices such as Kumamotos, Blue Points and Malpeques.
It will take some work to find a place that suits you best. Just remember that the fun is in the research and the most expensive is not always the best option.
Basically from here on in I will seek out oysters and a glass of champagne, a combination used exclusively when I want to drop some weight painlessly. I feel luxuriated and revitalized, and sometimes romantic. Slurp down and an oyster or two, fill up on some bubbly, and strut your feathers.