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Biting Commentary in New York: Grand Central Oyster Bar


To my right, a man in a suit orders a dozen cherrystone clams on the half shell and a bottle of Miller Lite. To my left, a schoolteacher is playing hooky. She tells me she is 60 and her mother has been coming here since she was 20. That's how old Grand Central Oyster Bar is, she says. Didn't it just celebrate its centennial? I ask. She has no idea. It was just always there.

28 varieties of oysters at Grand Central Oyster Bar and the famous oyster pan roasts being made.

She points out the steam kettles right in front of us, where the famous oyster pan roasts are made. In goes butter and oysters, then generous shakes of paprika and Worcestershire sauce. Then what looks like tomato sauce and lots of cream. I watch more than a dozen bowls of oyster pan roasts being made, one at a time, before my oysters arrive. (I have also, unknowingly, demolished six packages of oyster crackers; every time I finish a bag, the server drops another three in front of me.) Grand Central Oyster Bar sells about 1.5 million oysters a year and has the widest selection of oyster varieties I've ever seen, including wild Belons from Maine and Shigokus from Washington. This is my oyster heaven.

Belon oysters from Maine (in the foreground, left) and at the counter

Grand Central Oyster Bar feels as bustling and grand as the train station above it. A smaller side room, the Saloon, is a quieter club room, the same place Don Draper downed oysters and drinks. I think if I lived in New York, I would be playing hooky and coming here a lot as well.

89 E 42nd St, New York, NY, oysterbarny.com

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