The Best Oysters I’ve Ever Had

Written by NY Press on . Posted in NY Press Exclusive.


Our adventurous snacker finds a primo spot for sucking down the delectable seafood favorite

By Elian Zach

Oysters: sensual aphrodisiacs or slimy mollusk? I’ll accept both answers.

I absolutely adored oysters till I was 12 years old. I was considered weird among my friends for not having any food particularities. I’d eat anything from frog legs to snails and raw meat. Nothing was gross.

It all changed over one wretched lunch with my parents, when I felt a slight tickle coming from inside my oyster-stuffed mouth. I glanced down and was horrified to see one of the snotty suckers moving freely on my plate. Hysterical, I ran around the restaurant screaming and crying, my parents trying hard to keep from laughing and to comfort me. Betrayed by the species, my affair with oysters seemed to be over.

Years later I learned oysters were always served alive, and killed with lemon juice right before eaten. Still, I wouldn’t take any chances. I needed time to work through my PTSD. But when I moved to New York, my culinary curiosity took over. I didn’t want to have any red lines, so I decided to jump in and “take the dive.”

My first time after 10 years was good and smooth, just like riding a bike. However, practice made perfect. The more I tried, the more I enjoyed it. As I evolved from hater to connoisseur, I discovered that aside for the freshness and quality of the oyster, the seasoning played a decisive role in its flavor. In short, sometimes it’s all about the sauce.

The John Dory Oyster Bar in the Ace Hotel has managed to perfect it. Though the classic combo of horseradish, hot sauce and minced shallot in vinegar does the trick, the folks at Dory took it to the next level and proved again that innovation doesn’t take away from tradition—it builds on it.

East and West Coast oysters were topped with a delightfully zesty cilantro-jalapeño mignonette that blended perfectly with my excessive lemon juicing. If an ocean and a meadow had a son, he would be this sauce, and I’d sure have an affair with him.

Price: $3 per East/West Coast oyster

Daily oyster happy hour, 5 to 7 p.m., $15 for half-dozen oysters plus a glass of sparkling wine or a can of Snapperhead ale.

Overall Grade: 93

John Dory Oyster Bar, 1196 Broadway, noon-midnight daily, 212-792-9000 (no reservations), thejohndory.com

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