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Oyster Bar in Grand Central--whadd'ya think?

I am meeting a out of town friend at the Cambell Apartment for drinks and thought, what would be more NYC than a great early dinner at the Oyster bar? I've been to the Oyster bar for lunch many times but not recently--never for dinner. The recent reviews are all very disappointing. What are your thoughts ChowHound folk?

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  1. the food is subpar and overpriced. the pan roasts are decent at best.

    1. Its definitely good for atmosphere, but can be very loud....and i would agree that its overpriced.....you go for he experience

      1. Me third for being way overpriced. I remember the food being very good, but hardly worth the $$$$.

        1. Pricey and putrid; a damn shame, too. Even the Manhattan clam chowder sucks, which you'd think would be the one thing they got right. I went back 3 times after my initial horrible experience because I work in the area and I desperately WANTED it to be good. It's not. Probably they are dependent on a never-ending stream of first-time customers.

          1. You can dig up better shellfish from the Gowanus Canal.

            1. every now and then i like to sit at the bar with a pint or a cold white wine and order some oysters...
              in fact i recommend doing this at least once in your life.
              i also like their clam chowder.
              but there are much better oyster places in nyc and i would steer clear of the rest of the food.

              1. If you sit at the oyster bar, eat only: raw oysters, fried oysters, wine or ale, maybe a salad or coleslaw, maybe some soup, then it's one of the best experiences in the city.

                Agreed that dining in the main room on the cooked food is so-so, but the sitting at the bar is a true NY classic. There are lots of recent reviews here that support that position.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Simon

                  "If you sit at the oyster bar, eat only: raw oysters, fried oysters, wine or ale, maybe a salad or coleslaw, maybe some soup, then it's one of the best experiences in the city."

                  must be why i like the place...

                  1. I really do like the NE clam chowder. The oyster selection gets me too. The service? Not so much.

                    Good place for a quick & decent cheap lunch.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Ramsay_77

                      I'll second the chowder. I used to stop in after a day in midtown for a treat of NE chowder with oyster crackers and black pepper. I always found the wait people at the counter very pleasant.

                      1. re: Ramsay_77

                        Quality (or lack thereof) aside, I don't think the Oyster Bar qualifies as "cheap" by a long shot.

                        1. re: Mr. Particular

                          Maybe 'cheap' is relative but if I come out feeling like I've had a great lunch for $10 (on food) I'm happy.

                      2. Can't go wrong with the oysters preferably raw. The lobster pan roast also never disappoints.

                        1. Year in and year out I've always been very disappointed. Usually go 'cause someone won't believe me and insists that it must be wonderful. It's not. Since I don't eat raw castanets, that may be why I really don't like it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Jane A.

                            It's a wonderful experience for lunch, it's a bit depressing after 4 p.m. though

                          2. Soooooo disappointing, I was shocked at how mediocre the food was. Several of my oysters were shucked badly and had a lot of sediment. Room has no charm, feels like a cafeteria. Too expensive for what it is.

                            1. Was there last week for lunch for the first time and it was laughably bad...avoid at all costs!

                                1. you want to like this place. i remember picking up a seafood dinner for two at the take-out window, bouillabaisse in a bucket, running to the train and carefully placing it on the metro north seat next to me. fellow travelers sniffed and smiled.

                                  not anymore.

                                  pity. i wish someone would take charge and lead this icon back to respectability.

                                  1. Are you all crazy? There's nowhere else on earth (that I can think of) where you can find such a wide selection of fresh oysters (!), live uni (!), smoked fish and other choices, and a very wide fresh fish selection. Hasn't anyone gone to the small wood-paneled dining room off the oyster bar (throught the western doors). That's a charming space -- I always go there with guests and go to the counter when I'm on my own. You're all vastly under-appreciating the GCOB.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: steinpilz

                                      been going there for years. it's not so good. sorry.

                                      1. re: steinpilz

                                        GCOB, for all the years that I've ate there has always served warm and desalinized oysters. Their kitchen food pretty much sucks as well. The only place worse than GCOB is Black Pearl.

                                        1. re: steinpilz

                                          I agree and second the uni. The annual Oyster Frenzy is also great.

                                          1. re: steinpilz

                                            I have to strongly disagree. sit at the counter and watch how they shuck the oysters / prepare the panroasts. ew. went once, not ever again.

                                          2. The pan roasts are good and affordable. Stick with that and a nice beer, and good to go.

                                            1. The NE Clam Chowder is barely passable (canned Progresso clam chowder is better); the Pan Roasts, while tasty, are like drinking a quart of heavy cream. The best option is raw oysters & a glass of wine. Don't look for bargains. 95% of the customers are first-timers and/or tourists who make a visit part of their NYC experience. For locals, there are much better places to have lunch for $50.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Foodboy

                                                Much better places for raw bar as well.

                                              2. GO yes, everyone should have the GCOB experience. Have raw oysters and drinks and move on elsewhere for dinner.

                                                1. It's fun for a bowl of chowder at the old counter.