The Oyster Bar NYC :
A Wonderful Little Spot
Since 1913 delighting New Yorkers and the World.
It’s so civilized, sitting down to a hearty meal before departing on a long train journey.
Since 1913, friends have been meeting for a meal at the Oyster Bar. This restaurant opened the same year as Grand Central Terminal, and still today, it’s a wonderful little spot for fresh oysters and people watching. In the short time it takes to slurp down half a dozen oysters, I recently encountered a couple enjoying a last meal before separating on business for six months, two polished ladies of senior citizen age who meet at the counter weekly, and a fellow poet who proclaimed that there’s just something so damn poetic about oysters (I couldn’t agree more).
Where to Sit
The best seat in the house is undoubtedly right at the counter. Here you can ponder the long list of oysters, sampling a few at a time until your belly is finally content. Watching the staff pluck your order off ice, pop up it open with skill, and serve it on a bed of ice with lemon wedges connects you to your meal much more so than if it is just delivered by a waiter. Serving over 2 million oysters per year, the Oyster Bar is a great place to sample a variety of oysters from the 30 or so choices they have on the menu on any given day.
My favorite time to stop in is the middle of the afternoon. When you arrive between the lunch rush and the dinner rush, you can linger in your seat at the counter, sampling different oysters and nursing a glass of wine. Especially for a first visit, this is the best way to soak up the atmosphere.
What to Order
Individual oysters range from $2 – $3 each. Once you’re seated at the counter and sipping on a glass of cold white wine, you might be tempted to order entrees as well. While I recommend the soups for lunch, I must admit to being underwhelmed by certain fish entrees. The perfect visit would be either a lunch complete with a sampling of oysters and one of the house soups, or arriving in the early evening for some oysters as an appetizer to a meal elsewhere in the city. After all, the Oyster Bar is located in Grand Central Terminal, where the subway can whisk you to just about anywhere you would like to go.
Some customers are intimidated by the long oyster menu and don’t know where to start. If you don’t know what type of oysters you like, just start sampling them. Try oysters from different destinations (such as Malpeque oysters from Prince Edward Island or Sister Point oysters from Washington State) to start getting a feel for what types of oysters different regions produce. Also be sure to ask for recommendations – the counter staff can help point you in the direction of what’s particularly delicious today.
The unfussy charm of the Oyster Bar is what keeps me coming back. Sitting at the counter, I love to see people rushing through the central hallway in Grand Central Station only to stop at the window, throw back a freshly-shucked oyster, hand over a couple dollars, and continue on their way. The location has all the intrigue of a restaurant in an airport: where are people going? Why are they here? Where is everyone from? Similarly, patrons of the Oyster Bar seem ready and willing to strike up a conversation, just like at an airport.
If you have a few hours to kill alone in New York City, the Oyster Bar is ideal. Skip pubs and forgettable pub grub in favor of a seat at this counter in Grand Central Terminal. Eating alone here is common and encouraged, and if you’re the type of traveler that hates going into a restaurant alone, you will forget this fear when the first oyster goes down the hatch.
A Historical Attraction
With a belly full of oysters, there is one more stop you must make before leaving Grand Central Station. If you’ve never seen the glimmering 88,000 square foot ceiling in the main hall, stop in before heading off. The striking mural of constellations is one of the best known landmarks in the city, and yet in my eyes, hasn’t lost an ounce of its appeal. The hall has also ....