Throughout New York, there are still a few establishments where time appears not to have made an impact. Institution is a word commonly offered for places with an appreciation for the past. Oyster Bar is among this crowd.
Located in the lower level of Grand Central Terminal (or Station as most people call it), Oyster Bar has held residence here since the station’s opening in 1913. The interior has seen very little changes since the opening just over a century ago. The vaulted ceiling, wooden finishes and peninsula style seating is all true to the original design, having received very little refurbishment over the years. Early photos taken at the time of Grand Central’s opening offer a glimpse at the beautifully vaulted ceiling that still make up the main dining area.
As the name of the restaurant suggests, the menu favors the sea. Every day fresh fare arrives and makes its way to the plate. Oysters are the obvious selection, however the bouillabaisse is worthy of recognition and comes highly recommended. On any given day, you’ll find the restaurant packed with both locals and tourists alike, all taking a stab at the menu and chatting with the local staff, who are clear, concise and to the point. We prefer to take a seat at the bar, which affords a good view of some of the food being freshly prepared. A dozen of the day’s best oysters, shrimp cocktail and cold beer make-up our order.
If there is a list of restaurants labeled New York institutions, it’s safe to assume that the Oyster Bar would be near the top. After 100 years, this is one establishment that doesn’t disappoint.
If you go:
Grand Central Oyster Bar, 89 E 42nd St, New York, (In the sub-level of Grand Central Station).
Ask for a mix of oysters that will come from both coasts along with whatever local seasonal beer is on tap. If you’re curious, the clam chowder (either Manhattan or New England) and bouillabaisse are prepared fresh and worth trying.