Dutch Herring at GCT Oyster Bar
- Sloth Jun 10, 2012 07:57 AM
I've never eaten at Oyster Bar until yesterday. However, after seeing the giant poster for the Herring (on or about June 6th) I had to stop in.
Have to say, it is very nearly as good as it was in Holland the one time I had it in season. It comes on a plate with the chopped egg and onion and I suppose you could pick it up by the tail (although a knife and fork is provided). The Reisling I had with it was very good, but at $9.50 a glass I didn't order another.
The season only lasts another three weeks or so. Have to say the atmosphere was festive, the service was friendly and there was a charm to the whole scene I didn't expect. I had been led to believe the Oyster Bar was a tourist trap with few if any redeeming qualities. I was misled and will be back for more.
The GC Oyster Bar is a funny place. It IS a tourist trap if you sit at the tables and order off the "composed plates" menu. But if you sit at one of the counters and order off the counter menus, it's still, after all these years, one of the best dining experiences in the City (which I guess means, in the the world).
I think the annual Herring Festival is just great!
Raw. You can get it in a salad but I chose the split filet with tail on. Traditionally you hold it by the tail, dip or drag it in onion and hard boiled egg crumbles then tilt your head back and act like a sword-swallower (only these you should bite). Or you can use knife and fork for the more genteel approach.
I definitely would avoid the salad in favor of the filet. I have been by there twice this season for the herring, the second time with my daughter, who has a passion for oysters. I had the filet both times and the flavor was great and the texture was just the right combination of fat and chewiness. My daughter decided to try the salad and we were both pretty disappointed in it. It was basically a mound of potato, beet and mayo with some shreds of herring. At first, I thought they had brought us the wrong thing, but I looked at the receipt that the waiter printed out and it was the herring salad. The only possible advantage over the filet is that it is substantially more filling, though definitely much less satisfying. By the way, the dozen oysters we also had were first rate. As mentioned above, the best (and in my opinion, only) way to enjoy the Oyster Bar is to stick to the raw (or slightly brined) stuff. I have had their stews a couple of times and they are not up to par. And, yes, you have to sit at either the counter in the center of the room or behind it at the bar where the shucking station is.