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Grand Central Oyster Bar: for tourists or Lovers of Good Seafood??

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  • MarkG Jun 23, 2011 03:51 AM
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IOW have past mediocre reviews improved??

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Grand Central Oyster Bar
89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

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  1. Short answer: both. The atmosphere / architecture alone makes it kind of a must-see.

    That said, no city trip is complete for me w/out a lunch consisting of a dozen fat bivalves of my choice (a choice from, generally, 25-30 different oysters). The stews look good to, if a bit heavy on the cream, and I find most of the other seafood rather overpriced.

    1. It's one of the nicest places in Manhattan to have a dozen oysters and a beer. But I wouldn't go for a full dinner. Fun fact: tourists and locals often eat at the same restaurants. This is legal, believe it or not.

      2 Replies
      1. re: small h

        "Fun fact: tourists and locals often eat at the same restaurants. This is legal, believe it or not."

        So true small h.

        nother fun fact: All of us CHers are tourists when we go abroad or to other states on vacation or business and eat out at restaurants. Go figure.

        1. re: ttoommyy

          Agreed!

      2. there is a pretty much a consensus on this: sit at the counter, eat only the raw oysters (and maybe fried oysters and/or a bowl of soup), enjoy a glass of wine or a beer, and it's a fabulous historic lovely place...but if you sit at tables and eat the bland overpriced cooked food then it feels like a tourist trap...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Simon

          Completely agree. I love sitting at the counter and eating oysters and clams and a glass of wine - but that's it. I don't even think the pan roasts and chowder are good - basically bland bowls of cream with stuff floating in them. But oysters and wine...and maybe a shrimp cocktail....and shad roe when it's in season. That's it. And I love sitting there.

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            i'm a huge fan of the maryland she-crab soup, as well as the seared tuna sandwich. both available at the to-go window.

        2. For tourists? Yes!! Manhattan is a tourist destination. Tourists, especially Chowhounders, love great restaurants and great food. That's not a "bad" thing.
          Great oysters and chowders while sitting at the bar?? Absolutely!! Great atmosphere too!!
          Good seafood otherwise?? It's ok. We often hit the oyster bar for a dozen as an appetizer and then head off to another restaurant for dinner.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Motosport

            Exactly. Also did a dozen after a lunch at Sarge's a few blocks away

          2. The counter service is good for office workers

            1 Reply
            1. re: WestIndianArchie

              I agree, WestIndianArchie. Whenever I have needed to eat and pay within a specific time-frame, the staff at the counters have been very accommodating and helped me to make my intended train home. In general, I think one of the most important things about GCOB is this cardinal rule of dining anywhere: be polite to the staff, and they will almost always be polite to you. There are exceptions, to be sure, and I have had some very negative experiences with rude staff even at GCOB. But it is a high-stress environment to work in, and diners probably do well to keep that in mind.

            2. Just curious, can anyone name any place in the world that has more varieties of oysters from around the world, every day?
              I'm an old faithful, looking forward to my next pan roast.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                If there is such a place, I'd like to know about it. Love the GCOB, too.

                1. re: linguafood

                  Aquagrill does a very very good job.

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                  Aquagrill
                  210 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

              2. admittedly in referring to tourists, i was trying to refer to a tourist trap kind of place. did not mean to suggest that all tourists are gastronomically ignorant or just plain gullible and easy to rip off.

                1. When in NYC, I love my visits at the Oyster Bar for great oysters, chowder, wine and people watching...waiters too.