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Oyster Bar

Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY - (212) 490-6650
Posted By Michael Stern on 4/22/2014 5:05:00 PM
It is all too easy to take the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station for granted. In fact, it is one of the great seafood restaurants of New York, great in every respect: beautiful to see with its vaulted tiled ceiling and counter-seat views of the oyster shuckers and pan roasters at work, and amazing in its menu, which is printed every day. It is not unusual to count several dozen kinds of raw oysters available, and an itemized "day's catch" from around America and the world that would put most fish markets to shame. Anyone for whole smelts? How about black cod filet, Arctic char, wolf fish, weakfish, pink snapper, sturgeon steak, or seared hamachi (that's yellowtail)? All were on the menu one day in June.

Every day, it is possible to eat totally classically. This kitchen makes fine fish 'n' chips, bouillabaisse, crab cakes, oysters Rockefeller, and fried clams. On a splurgy evening, there's nothing better than its perfectly prepared Dover sole meuniere. If you want shrimp, you can have them grilled, fried in rice batter or coconut, cocktail-cool, or stewed.

Other than raw oysters, probably the best-known thing to eat at the Oyster Bar is one of its pan roasts, which are made up front in the open kitchen where the shuckers work. A pan roast is a buttery soup/stew of seafood, cream, pepper and spice. It is based on the shellfish of your choice and served in a broad bowl.

Whole meals can be very expensive, especially if you get lots of raw oysters, which can cost $3 apiece. Most entrees are close to $30 or more. , or such pricey items as Copper River king salmon (near $30) or stone crab claws (getting up towards $50). But it is also possible to have a satisfying lunchtime sandwich or pan roast for under $20. There is a big wine list and a spectacular round-the-world beer list; and we think the Key lime pie served here for dessert is the best for miles around.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Manhattan Clam Chowder
New England Clam Chowder
raw oysters
Oyster Po Boy
pan roast
Ipswich Clam Sandwich
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The pan roast is a signature dish of the oyster bar. It is an old-fashioned bisque served in a broad bowl, built around your favorite kind of seafood: oysters, cherrystone or Ipswich clams, shrimp, lobster, scallops, or any combination thereof. The slightly spicy, very creamy stew is ballasted by a thick piece of toast.
"The pan roast is a signature dish of the oyster bar. It is an old-fashioned bisque served in a broad bowl, built around your favorite kind of seafood: oysters, cherrystone or Ipswich clams, shrimp, lobster, scallops, or any combination thereof. The slightly spicy, very creamy stew is ballasted by a thick piece of toast."
Michael Stern





A dozen oysters on the half shell, ready to eat!
"A dozen oysters on the half shell, ready to eat!"
Cliff Strutz


Do you know of another restaurant, anywhere, with an entryway so spectacular?
"Do you know of another restaurant, anywhere, with an entryway so spectacular?"
Michael Stern


This is what it's all about: raw oysters, shucked and served as fast as anyone sitting at the raw bar can eat them. To the left of the photo are clams on the half shell.
"This is what it's all about: raw oysters, shucked and served as fast as anyone sitting at the raw bar can eat them. To the left of the photo are clams on the half shell."
Michael Stern


The Oyster Bar gets its seafood from everywhere. This sandwich is loaded with a salad of cool Dungeness crab from the Pacific Northwest.
"The Oyster Bar gets its seafood from everywhere. This sandwich is loaded with a salad of cool Dungeness crab from the Pacific Northwest."
Michael Stern


This po boy contained plenty of juice-bursing oysters; and the bread itself tasted just hours out of the oven.
"This po boy contained plenty of juice-bursing oysters; and the bread itself tasted just hours out of the oven."
Michael Stern


While diehard Yankees don't approve of this soup, denigrating it as
"While diehard Yankees don't approve of this soup, denigrating it as "vegetable soup with clams," open-minded eaters will find it immensely satisfying."
Michael Stern


A view of the pass-through window to the kitchen from my seat at the counter.
"A view of the pass-through window to the kitchen from my seat at the counter."
Michael Stern


Here's a list of what oysters (and clams) were available in mid-March, 2004.
"Here's a list of what oysters (and clams) were available in mid-March, 2004."
Michael Stern


As I finished lunch, the waitress came by and offered hot cross buns to top things off.
"As I finished lunch, the waitress came by and offered hot cross buns to top things off."
Michael Stern


When the waitress saw me taking a picture of my chowder, she offered to take my picture, too. I retaliated by taking her picture with the hot cross buns (see above)!
"When the waitress saw me taking a picture of my chowder, she offered to take my picture, too. I retaliated by taking her picture with the hot cross buns (see above)!"
Michael Stern


Every meal at the oyster bar begins with a baking powder biscuit. If you arrive early in the lunch hour, it will still be oven-hot.
"Every meal at the oyster bar begins with a baking powder biscuit. If you arrive early in the lunch hour, it will still be oven-hot."
Michael Stern


You can see how crunchy the fried clams are inside this hefty sandwich.
"You can see how crunchy the fried clams are inside this hefty sandwich."
Michael Stern


Here's a view from the counter of people sliding freshly-shucked oysters down their throats under the sign that lists the
"Here's a view from the counter of people sliding freshly-shucked oysters down their throats under the sign that lists the "catch of the day.""
Michael Stern



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