Bonkers over bivalves? Silly for seafood? New York City has many places where you can down a dozen oysters at dinner, happy hour, and other occasions, especially apt just now as Monday, August 5th is National Oyster Day!
New to the oyster parade: Flex Mussels, the city‘s first restaurant to harvest its own line, called "Lil Sharkey’s" after owner Alexandra Shapiro's childhood nickname. These oysters, raised in Prince Edward Island of mussel fame, are three-inch cocktail size and plump. Flex has two locations: 154 W. 13th St. and 174 E. 82nd.
The Sea Fire Grill, 158 E. 48th St., offers oysters for $1.50 per in the bar area from Mondays through Thursdays, 4-6pm, when the popular seafood restaurant also has select beers and wines at half off.
Historic Grand Central Oyster Bar serves a vast selection of 20-30 varieties of oysters daily, with a staggering total of over 5 million sold every year. On National Oyster Day, executive chef Sandy Ingber, renowned as the “Bishop of Bivalves,” will plate a pair of National Oyster Day Power Platters, one featuring a half dozen East and West Coast oysters at $19.20, and another with a full dozen bivalves—three of each—West Coast: Clevedon Cove (New Zealand) and Fanny Bay (British Columbia); and East Coast: Malpeque (Prince Edward Island) and Wellfleet (Massachusetts) at $39.90.
Drop into Patrick’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar for East and West Coast oysters by the dozen or the half dozen—or spring for the Raw Bar Trio, featuring six littleneck clams and six each of the East and West coast bivalves for $38. Patrick’s, at 259 W. 42nd St., also serves Pat LaFreida burgers, a lobster roll, steaks, salads, and has live Irish music on Thursday nights starting at 7pm.
There’s an oyster bar at Ribbon 44, 220 W. 44th St., part of the famed Blue Ribbon group of eateries. This Times Square newcomer features their famous fried chicken, deviled eggs, burgers of many kinds, and a spit-roast for chicken, pork, and beef. There is a large wine list as well as local beer and cider.
Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar inside Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave., can get crowded but their Happy Hour, Monday–Friday from 4-6pm, offers $1 oysters. The restaurant is owned by the Lobster Place right next door, which sells seafood to area restaurants so offerings are incredibly fresh.
Photo by John Suhar.
What happens after happy eaters have downed their oysters? Over 70 restaurants toss shells into the city’s harbor as part of the Billion Oyster Project. The shells are trucked to Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood and once a month brought en masse to Governors Island between Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. There they sit to cure for a year to get rid of contaminants. After a final cleaning the shells go to Billion Oyster Project's hatchery at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a public high school on Governors Island that offers technical and vocational training in marine sciences. In a long process, these shells become ‘sprat,’ in effect, baby oysters, that get transferred to a “reef structure” so the oysters can fuse together and become a healthy reef in New York Harbor. There the oysters serve as natural water filters and provide food and shelter for other marine creatures.
Just think: that oyster you enjoy may one day help the New York City have a cleaner, healthier harbor—and more oysters to enjoy!
The following shell collection program partners are generously donating 5% of sales on August 5 to Billion Oyster Project’s shell collection program:
Crave Fishbar Midtown – Crave Fishbar Upper West Side – Cull & Pistol – Il Pesce @ Eataly Flatiron – La Piazza @ Eataly Flatiron – Grand Army – Grand Banks – Grey Lady –Island Oyster – Jams @ 1 Hotel – Lighthouse – M. Wells – Midnights – Oceana – Pilot –Seamore’s Brookfield Place – The Clam – Zadie’s Oyster Room