The Oyster Bar in the Grand Central Terminal remains one of my favorite restaurants in NYC. There is something distinctly “New Yorkish” about the Oyster Bar that was founded in 1913. I vaguely recall that my parents first showed me the restaurant in 1953, but I can’t be absolutely sure. The art deco architecture of the restaurant and surrounding terminal have benefited from a recent renovation and dining at one of the many food stalls and restaurants within the Terminal has become quite popular, particularly around lunchtime.
The fish at the Oyster Bar is always fresh, the food is always good and sometimes great, and the noise level is intense. It is not a place that I would recommend for a romantic date, but I accept the high decibels at the Oyster Bar since they are supplied by humans rather than the piped-in variety that now seems to prevail at most eating establishments. I mentioned earlier that one restaurant owner explained that there is strong evidence to suggest that loud music causes people to drink more.
The Oyster Bar is roughly divided into four distinct areas: the restaurant (to the left as you enter the Oyster Bar from the main entrance on the ground level of the Terminal), the food bar located immediately to the right, the oyster bar (hard right and behind you from the entrance) and the saloon which is located through a door on the far right. If you are seeking a little peace and quiet, I recommend the less hectic pace of the saloon, but you should call ahead for reservations. For the most part, I will sit at one of the stools at the food bar and order my favorite dish, the Oyster Pan Roast.
The Oyster Bar has an extensive menu, but the highly seasoned Pan Roast is my favorite, particularly in the Fall. I’ve tried all of the various shellfish varieties, but nothing matches the simplicity of the oyster. This is a meal in itself, but you may want to treat yourself to a half-dozen raw oysters from 20 or so choices. Yesterday, we had Martha Vineyard oysters, Peconic Pearls from Long Island and the delightful salty Yaquina oysters from Oregon.
For those who want a traditional New York culinary experience, I strongly recommend the Oyster Bar for lunch.