Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Do People LIKE This?!

Oysters Rockefeller -- Grand Central Oyster Bar
Grand Central Oyster Bar

Generally speaking, it is usually not a good sign when we can be found spitting out a Best Thing I Ever Ate delicacy into an oyster cracker bag.  In fact, being that we're above the age of five, we really do not make a habit of removing food from our mouths once it is on the way down the hatch.  If anything, we merely power through, and then write a nasty recap.

Not so with Grand Central Oyster Bar.
The Place Brings Out the Worst in Us
In theory, we should love this establishment, as it is seemingly the only restaurant in the world where people like to eat as early as we do.  Indeed, when Vodka wanders in at 5:15pm, the bar is packed.  PACKED.  Who eats as this hour?!
Does This Place Have an Early Bird Special?!
Begrudgingly, Vodka is led to a table in the restaurant area of the room, and when she requests that we be granted a two-person table at the end of the row, she is denied.  Why?  "That table doesn't have waiter service until 6:00pm," the hostess says.  What now?!

Said table is located DIRECTLY NEXT to eight other tables, all with "waiter service."  How is this remotely logical?

Clearly, we should have known from the beginning that this place would give us trouble.
Next Thing We Know, They'll Be Telling Us They Don't Have Booze
Ginger arrives, we order our cocktails and decide on our choices: two bowls of New England clam chowder, a side of French fries, and the oysters Rockefeller, as recommended by Scott Conant on the OLD SCHOOL episode.
Old School Food, Old School Architecture
As our waiter retreats, we launch into our favorite complaint: why is there no bread on our table?  In our defense, this is a logical gripe, as all of the tables around us have rolls (which are not being eaten -- what is WRONG with you people?) resting atop them.
Come On Now - We Need Something to Soak Up Our Alcohol Intake
Instead of warm, delicious rolls, we are tossed two bags each of oyster crackers, which we tear into immediately as we continue to moan about our lack of carbs.
Welcome to Dinner at the Clam Shack
"Just because we're cheap doesn't mean we don't deserve bread," Vodka says, referring to our rather paltry choice of "entrees."  Less than a minute later, Ginger calls out, "Where is our bread?  Now I'm obsessed.  And plus, my cookies are gone!"

For the record, by "cookies," she means "oyster crackers."  Which were actually meant to be placed IN THE SOUP.
Patience Is Not Our Strong Suit
When we mention our breadless problem to our waiter, he has the bread boy escort a plate of rolls and grocery-store-generic crisps over immediately, along with a bowl of frozen butter.
Well, This Looks... "Fresh"
As one may recall, we HATE cold butter.  The whole point of the heavenly substance is to make it SPREADABLE.  And ice cubes are, guess what?  Not spreadable.
See?! Now We've Lost One!
Before we have a chance to be as crabby about the state of the butter as we would wish, our food begins to arrive.  First comes two bowls of New England clam chowder, in which we sprinkle our remaining oyster crackers.  Thick and chunky with clams and potatoes, the soup is definitely good -- standard, but good.
Although the Presentation Leaves a Lot to Be Desired
However, we both notice that once the oyster crackers have disappeared from within it, we grow decidedly less interested in the endeavor, and neither of us can seem to finish the remaining chowder.
Of Course, If We Had Some More BREAD With Which to Lap It Up, We May Feel Differently
The French fries are similarly tasty enough, though decidedly like something that could have come out of a freezer.
Ore Ida, Straight Out of the Bag!
Once Vodka has doused them with enough salt to put Ginger's (apparently high) cholesterol over the edge, they are more palatable.
Also, We Appreciate the Portion. In That It's Large
And then come the oysters Rockefeller.  Now, neither of us makes a habit of eating oysters, but we have no real prior opinion of them.
Open-Minded? That's So Unlike Us
Neither of us has tasted an oyster Rockefeller concoction before, and it appears to be oysters topped by spinach and a mustard-cheese sauce.  Ginger manages to commandeer an oyster into her mouth first, and upon impact, she makes a face.

And it's not a pleasant face either.
Again With the "Presentation" Skills....
Vodka dives in, and for a moment, she finds them less offensive than Ginger does.  Certainly not GOOD, but not awful.  Maybe 3 stars.  Verging on 2.

And then we both take another taste, which is when things begin to go downhill fast.
Could We Have Some Oysters With This Velveeta?
First of all, these oysters are lukewarm -- not hot, not cold, but warm.  Far from appealing in temperature, they taste as though they have been sitting out too long.  Second of all, the combination of the wilted, sad-looking spinach and preponderance of mustardy cheese (we determine later this is supposed to be hollandaise sauce) grows less palatable as we attempt to make our way through the plate.  And then there is the issue of the oysters themselves. To summarize, we might as well just have been handed a fistful of the beach to eat, because they are THAT gritty.
Someone Give Us a Pail and Shovel So We Can Build a Sand Castle
All in all, we are astounded that Scott Conant, of all people, picked this dish.  After all, Scott is the chef behind Scarpetta, which is pretty much the most delicious place on the planet.  It's not like he doesn't know how good things taste.  And these oysters Rockefeller are about as far from a good thing as one could get.
And Also, Heaven Knows Scott Knows His Way Around a Good Bread Basket!
At the end of our meal, the waiter comes by and asks how things were.

"Egh," Vodka answers.

"Terrible," Ginger says.

Listen, buddy -- don't ask questions that you don't want answers to.

When our waiter persists in asking what was wrong, Ginger points to the plate of oysters and says incredulously, "Do people LIKE these?"  Our waiter assures us that people do (clearly the same people who don't eat the free bread placed in front of them), but out of the goodness of his heart, he takes the price of the dish off of our bill.
Note the Hot Sauce Smear on the Plate - Ginger's Attempt to Make Them More Palatable
And for this, we give you, Oyster Bar, extra credit: 1 star +, for at least having some semblance of good customer service.  Of course, the "plus," doesn't really mean anything when it comes to this blog's record books, where you will be filed in the one-star territory.  Because, well, your food is still terrible.

Grand Central Oyster Bar's Oysters Rochefeller: 1 star


  1. i love ginger and vodka! so funny. next time you order oysters rock, ask them to hold the beach.

  2. I just discovered this blog. You have quickly become my food blogger heroes. Maybe at some point you'll take on DD&D.