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Feb 2, 2001 04:13 PM

Oyster Bar at Grand Central

  • t

Had lunch there today with two old friends. I got there late. Stood there wildly scanning the dining room looking for the friends. Harassed staff rushed about completely ignoring me although I was probably in their way. Finally spotted friends and made my way over without assistance.

Grumpy waiter did not crack a smile or give a bugger about what we wanted. When I asked him if he would eat the fish and chips, he said no. suggested various things (most of them expensive). In the end I ordered a dozen Belon oysters and the swordfish (grilled). Also a glass of the house sauvignon blanc, as did one of the friends.
1. oysters and one glass of wine come. no sign of second glass. no. 2 waiter more ethnic and more obliging than no. 1. sent back for second glass.
2. oysters, big, fat, yummy, not too cold which I really like.

3. second glass of wine arrives.

4. shrimp caesar salad and plate of fried oysters arrive. shrimp huge and chilly. They must have cost about $3 each. oysters ok but my girlfriend chipped a filling on the several bits of oyster shell that had made their way into the frying. I guess at least that way we knew they weren't canned.

5. swordfish. total mistake. an incredibly measly piece of fish for the $25 or so it costs, cut too thin so that it was (surprise!) overcooked, dry and basically tasteless. accompanied by one (ONE!) small boiled potato, a few of those baby carrots that come ready-peeled at the supermarket, two tiny (marble-size) hothouse squash and two brussel sprouts, all steamed dully.

6. bill (also included a couple of cokes and cups of coffee): $150 with the $20 tip we were willing to go for considering how much we all hated our waiter.

7. Of course, he managed to come back in order to point out that I'd made a mistake adding it up and written $140 instead of $150.

My conclusion: There is really no reason to go except for the raw bar, and there are other places just as good for that. This is sad. It is still an amazing space, and of course Grand Central itself is ten times more beautiful than it used to be.

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  1. j
    john knoesel

    Hi Tamara,
    I had lunch there the same day !
    The oyster selection/freshness is above average but that's it. I had to yell at my waiter to get him over for a second round of drinks. These guys don't have a clue ! If I ever go back it's definetely the bar area for me. One of my clients spoke highly of Tropica upstairs in the MetLife Bldg. Have you ever eaten there ?

    3 Replies
    1. re: john knoesel

      no, never been to Tropica. if you go, tell us about it!

      1. re: john knoesel
        George Lynch

        I've had both lunch and dinner at Tropica, maybe visited there a dozen times over a three or four year period. I'll start by saying I like this place A LOT.

        Reason number one: Somehow I got on the mailing list for both Tropica and for the Sea Grill at Rock Center (probably same owners: Restaurant Associates). Anyway, when the Sea Grill closed for renovations, I got an invitation in the mail to visit Tropica for a free dinner for myself and my wife. We went, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the "free" part covered all but alcohol (i.e., no menu restrictions), including choice of desserts. They gave us a table of our choice, treated us like royalty, and the food, service and attitude were remarkable. (Gotta admit, we did splurge on the wine.)

        Reason number two: Never encountered anything close to an attitude there. I've always found the service to be very professional and they pay attention.

        Reason number three: Never been disappointed in a meail there. I think they do a helluva job on their seafood dishes, chef and kitchen crew know their stuff. I have occasionally wished I ordered something else, but only because one of my dining companions beat me to the punch.

        Downside #1: price: they ain't cheap.

        Downside #2: It's a stopoff for commuters, so from about 4:30 till maybe 7:30, the bar is packed, lots of cigarette smoke, that sort of thing. But the dining room is fine, even then. And if all you want is a drink, they pay attention there too. Don't recall having to wait for a check, that sort of thing.

        So, obviously, I'm a big fan. Come to think of it, I'm surprised I don't recommend the place more often. Maybe it's the location...

        1. re: George Lynch

          i love love the oyster bar. best selection of clans and oysters anywhere. i always sit at the bar. the make great "pan roast" clam oyster or loster in heavy delicious cream with a touch or more of sherry. they also make good bloody mary. not a place to really go to sit at a table on a date.

      2. Two weeks ago, I had the N.E. clam chowder at the counter with a beer while waiting for a train. I was so disapointed when the waitress brought my soup and then disapeared without leaving a soup spoon. Couldn't find anyone to bring me a spoon, watching the steam come off my soup, I finally got up to find my own spoon. Waitress then appears with a laugh and hands me a spoon. I like my food hot, I don't find that funny. Chowder tasted institutional, I think Progresso's is better.

        Stick to the raw bar.