Pearl or Grand Central: Which Oyster Bar to choose?
My wife's aunt, who lives in Tokyo, and is flying in on Sunday, 8/27, saw a Japanese TV show singing the praises of the Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar. Now, she really wants to try it. I hear a lot of great things, however, about the Pearl Oyster Bar down on Cornelia. Having never been to either, and being admittedly ignorant on the topic of oyster bars in general, you can all see my conundrum.
Which, oh which, to take her to?
PS: I would like to get a sense of the prices, and, also, which place serves the better Lobster Roll.
I love Pearl Oyster Bar, and their lobster roll is excellent. But, if you want to try a lot of oysters, be aware that on a given night, POB will serve only two types of oysters, one of which will be on the half shell, and the other fried (delicious). Lobster roll is about $22 -25 - check for two with appetizers, two lobster rolls and a bottle of wine, and maybe a desert, may run around $120 - $130. Haven't been to GC for years, but I believe they serve a wide variety of oysters. Aquagrill is a favorite of mine for oysters - in Soho.
For variety and historical significance-Grand Central Oyster bar. The back tavern room is a bit cosier and more softly lit.
If it's just about the quality of Oysters, I think Blue Ribbon on Sullivan street is the most consistent.
There's a branch of Grand Central Oyster Bar in Tokyo, so there's probably a bit of excitement about that specific place.
I say take her there, as much for the selection of oysters and other sea creatures as for the room and ambiance. GCOB is about as NYC as you can get without being shot by P-Diddy in a dance club.
Pearl's is great, but completely and totally different. It could be on any really nice little street in a really nice part of any American city.
The Grand Central Oyster Bar is the New York experience. Stick to simple food; stews, panroasts, etc. Ask your waiter about which oysters he likes THAT DAY. Eat in the saloon, which has a great selection of beverages.
Pearl makes a better lobster roll, but it is a New England beach front shack crammed into a Greenwich Village storefront. I prefer Mary's Fish Camp to Pearl's, although opinions differ widely on this board.