Last winter, Dan and I went on an oyster binge. We happened to have a couple great meals that included oysters and, voila! A new food addiction was born. We spent a few very lovely Sundays exploring a few of the city’s great raw bar and seafood spots, hitting up three of them in one very memorable day. Below are four of our favorite spots to indulge.
1. Walter Foods 253 Grand Street between Driggs and Roebling in Williamsburg
Aside from having one of the best classic eggs benedicts in the city, Walter Foods has a small but well-curated raw bar. The drinks are delicious (try the fig sidecar), and while you are there you may as well have some yummy fried chicken too. While the restaurant has a lively brunch, there usually isn’t too big of a wait on weekend mornings. It’s no surprise that the homies who founded Walter Foods racked up years of experience at my next favorite spot before they set out on their own.
2. Balthazar 80 Spring Street between Broadway and Crosby in Soho
Ahhh, Balthazar. Snuggle in with your neighbors at tiny tables and enjoy the scene at this always-packed Keith McNally classic. The raw bar selection here includes oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, and so much more. If you are feeling really saucy try one of the the Plateaux de Fruits de Mer, a multi-tiered raw bar masterpiece (le grand, $70 and le balthazar, $115). It’s actually a lot more food than you think. Balance your spending on raw shellfish by washing it all down with a 15 oz carafe of muscadet for 18 buckaroos. Make it all last for a couple hours until you get hungry again. Then order the steak frites.
3. Aquagrill 210 Spring Street between Sullivan and 6th ave in Soho
Settle your bill at Balthazar and stroll around Soho for a while until you’ve walked six blocks west to Aquagrill. Grab a seat at the bar and enjoy the super yummy selection of bread that quickly arrives (focaccia, corn bread, and warm crusty french bread, with delicious olive oil). Aquagrill can’t be beat when it comes to the combination of oyster selection, quality, and price. Have some cava and then more delicious bread and then another round of oysters.
4. The John Dory Oyster Bar in the Ace Hotel at 1196 Broadway at 29th Street in Flatiron
Ok, a confession. I haven’t actually been here yet. But, after reading NY Times critic Sam Sifton lose his marbles over how amazing it is in this week’s review and diner’s journal, I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy eating there. It’s right by Dan’s office, which gives it bonus points. Plus, it has a small plates menu of seafood awesomeness to complement the raw bar. I say YES to toast buttered in sea urchin roe and squid stuffed with chorizo paella. April Bloomfield, you are speaking my language. And when I’m done there I’ll swing by The Breslin and have a scotch egg just cuz.
Alright, now that I’ve made Dan and me sound like gluttonous wine-swigging raw bar fiends, I think I’ll try to blog about something that isn’t food. Just kidding! Up next for me is Minetta Tavern’s $26 Black Label Burger.