Friday, October 9, 2009

For The Love of Food

The idea of cracking open a creature only to slurp up its very being is utterly barbaric. But it’s that animalistic approach to shellfish that makes it so appealing. We spend so much of our life trying to be polite, and proper, especially when it comes to food, that the freedom that comes with the slurping, dunking, and lip smacking of oyster eating is absolutely liberating. Once you get over the initial repulsion of seeing a gray slimy blob sitting before you, it’s quite easy to become addicted to this decadent little creature. I can admit that I’m completely addicted, without shame or guilt. And so I present to you five oyster havens, where you can dive in face first, and think about monetary consequences afterwards.

Markt is fashioned after a classic Belgium brasserie, complete with an antique bar, a huge selection of Belgian beers, and seafood galore. What they lack in cozy atmosphere (weekends are loud and packed at this Chelsea hot spot,) they make up for in quality. Their oysters are incredibly fresh and shucked to perfection. And at only $13 for a half dozen giant briny gems, I say it’s well worth the trip.

I have yet to visit Bleeker Street’s Fish, but from the rave reviews of my fellow oyster addicts this place has the best deal in town. Apparently you can get a half dozen oysters, and a pint of refreshing beer for only $8. It sounds completely insane, and one would think the seafood quality would suffer due to the incredible price, but I’ve been assured that their oysters are just as fresh and juicy as ever.

Grand Central Oyster Bar is the legend of the bunch. There’s a certain sensation that emerges from within when sipping a cocktail, and downing some oysters in such a historic place – you feel transported through time, to a place where women always wore skirts, and men actually held doors open. All in all, it’s a classic experience with a reputation that remains in tact even after all these years.

If you find yourself in Brooklyn, I’ve been told that Walter Foods is definitely worth checking out if you’re in the mood for some briny critters. The vibe is inherently retro, and the quality is supposed to be divine. I’m hoping I can visit the restaurant during oyster season (September – December) to sample their goods.

Lastly there’s Five Leaves, the tiny Brooklyn gem that sits precariously on a busy corner somewhere between Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Although my only visit to the restaurant was on their opening night, when they weren’t yet serving food, I’ve heard that their dishes are superb. Even if you’re just going for a quick drink, the John McCormick designed space is nautical and relaxed – a perfect beginning to a long night out.


  1. I think that you and i should do an oyster crawl this fall. I want to go to all these places and then some! You up for it?