Oceana in Manhattan, NYC – The World Is My Oyster, A Matter of Food and Life

I have been thinking a lot about how to write this post because the experience was not only about the food. The food played a big part for sure but the experience was more about connecting the dots in life, much like how the oysters showed up on the plate for me that night. Oceana is a seafood restaurant located on 49th Street and Ave of the Americas in New York City. It’s supposed to be a great one with a premier locale.

Oceana belongs to the Livanos Family who owns Moderne Barn in Armonk and City Limits Diner in White Plains. I was not aware of this fact until I did the research on Oceana post my dining experience.  Interestingly, the performance of Oceana is consistent with my experiences at both restaurants in the Westchester county. It’s consistently fine but not outstanding. Read my earlier posts, click here for Moderne Barn and here  for City Limits.image Chef’s compliment – Something about sunchokes with cream. Couldn’t really hear the waiter. It was good. imageOysters: Naked Cowboy (LI), Summerside (PEI), Dabob Bay (WA), Totten Inlet (WA), Fanny Bay (British Columbia), Tokeen Bay (AK).  I won’t point fingers since I am not 100% sure… I believe starting at 12 o’clock is the Naked Cowboy (2 each) and then rotate clockwise to Tokeen Bay. If that were true, Dabob Bays were really dumb! They were tasteless and meaty with a low salinity. Naked Cowboys and Summerside were everything one would expect from east coast oysters. They were beautiful, sweet and strong with a mineral taste. imageTamari Glazed Steelhead Salmon: soybeans, water chestnuts, shiitake broth. Excellent. Excellent. This was the best for the night.imageSticky Toffee Pudding: rum caramel, coconut ice cream, toasted coconut. Oceana’s dessert menu sounded very promising but the reality is far from satisfactory. This was ok but I certainly would not spend my calories on it.imageChocolate Layer Trifecta: chocolate cake, toffee crunch, chocolate crémeux. I love chocolate. Chocolate makes me happy. When a menu item lists chocolate three times, I expect the dessert to deliver a pleasant punch if not a high. Hershey’s kisses is the quality of this dessert. Mediocre and main stream. I had two bites.imageChef’s Compliments: They came by twice to try to give us the same complimentary dessert. My friend believes that the chef went out to a Duane Reade across the street and bought a bag of these to distribute to the diners. Sadly, they taste true to the Duane Reade candies.

Whenever I have oysters, I highly anticipate. Oysters are a representation of best things life can offer – smooth, alive, salty and sweet, mineral/floral, and filled with changes and surprises. They never sucked for me until those two dumb oysters that night. On that tray of twelve, some were pleasant highlights and two were not worth eating, reminding me to check my cavalier attitudes at the door, pay attention to my present-and-now, connect the dots and don’t let the restaurant bring their oyster sampler. Take charge to find that oyster high. Live deeply and fully.

Consistently with the other Livanos Family restaurants, Oceana was fine but not outstanding.

This experience took place at

Oceana

120 W 49th St
New York, NY 10019

Mill Street in Greenwich, CT- December Challenge 3 of 17, Oyster Three Ways

This is my writing challenge 3 of 17: writing a post a day until I leave for vacation on the 21st. Let me begin by telling you that this was a decadent and sinful enjoyment. It was a survey of the Mill Street Bar & Table’s best, i.e., seafood. I went with someone who knew the restaurant well and was lucky enough to benefit from his prior experiences. Thank you, Mustafa Mansour.

I am very tempted to let the photos and the descriptions of the dish stand by themselves on this post, especially the oysters. Oysters are a slice of heaven, reminding me of what could be and what I should strive for. We had them three ways: raw, fried, and grilled.
ICED OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL:Mignonette, Cocktail Sauce, Lemon Stella Mar, Greenwich, CT • Island Creek, Duxbury, MA • Basket Island, Casco Bay, ME • Lucky Limes, PEI, New Brunswick, CAN • Tisbury Pond, Martha’s Vineyard. This by far is the best way to eat the oysters. You get to enjoy the rawness of the oysters, experiencing the salinity, the cleanliness, and the texture of the oysters. I love the way the oyster go down when you slurp it up. The smooth and the slimy. Yes, there was also a discussion on how oysters are being farmed in the east coast of the US.
FRIED STELLA MAR OYSTERS: Kimchi Mayo, Lemon. The fried oysters here surprised me. They were much better than expected. The batter was thin and tasty. The whole ensemble was excellent.  GRILLED STELLA MAR OYSTERS: White Wine, Butter, Thyme. This was good but in comparison to the raw and the fried, it would be my third favorite way to eat the oysters.
BAKED CLAMS Spicy Peppers, Butter. Baked clams are more superior than the grilled oysters since they are more meaty and you can retain more of the sea when baked.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER: Pine Nut Butter, Capers, Lemon. I loved this. I am a fan of cauliflower and roasted foods. The burn with the acidity of the lemon made me very happy.   Thin-Crust Flatbread: Potato, Crispy Pork Belly, Caramelized Onions, Crème Fraiche. This sounded like an intriguing proposition – crispy pork belly with Crème Fraiche but it was the worst combination imaginable. The flavors were fighting against each other as was the texture. The potatoes were lame on top of the flatbread. This dish fell very flat and most was left uneaten.
CRISPY SWEET POTATOES: Black Garlic Aioli, Herb Salsa. This came highly recommended and was my friend’s favorite dish at Mill Street. The black garlic aioli apparently makes the dish. Unfortunately, I couldn’t appreciate it at all due to my bias towards sweet potatoes.  CHOCOLATE CAKE: Cookie Crumb & Milk Ice Cream. This was a complete flap for me. I took two bites. Pedestrian at best.
ETON MESS: Passion Cream, Granola, Muddled Berries, Meringue. I didn’t know what Eton Mess was and Mustafa kindly explained it to me. His verbal description painted a picture that the actual dish couldn’t beat unfortunately. The visual of the dessert is beautiful though.

I would say that the Mill Street’s oysters rival with that of the Elm Street Oyster House. Both restaurants are in Greenwich, CT. I would definitely return to both. My experience here was delightful.

But… for the die-hard oyster fans, my favorite way to eat oysters is on the bar stool at La Boîte Huitres in the Jean-Talon Market in Montreal where there are numerous varieties from the east and west coasts of North America and Galway of Ireland. Try that next – They have a great selection.  You will love it. #Oysters

This experience took place at

Mill Street Bar & Table
230 Mill Street
Greenwich, CT 06830
(203) 813-3323

Wanderlust Edinburgh, Scotland- Fishers in the City. Best Oysters, How I’ve Waited for You All My Life.

Fishers were recommended by the cabbie. He said a lot to me in the taxi from the airport to the hotel but I understood little- I have trouble with accents even though I have a slight one myself. One thing I understood is that Fishers has great seafood if I want a non-pub experience. In addition, my friend, Ruth, who lived in UK has highly recommended the oysters in Scotland. There I was, counting myself as a lover of oysters and walking into the best oysters of my life. #OysterLove The kitchenPacific Rock Oysters Loch Creran, Dunbeg, Scotland Natural Shallot vinegar. Elyssa/Lisa- Best oysters ever! Half dozen £11.50 Nine £17.00 Dozen £22.00. It’s the water’ it’s the ecology in the water. Of course, oysters must be fresh otherwise eating them raw would get you sick. But these oysters take freshness to the next level. They taste clean, juicy, slightly salty and briny. This is really not something that I can describe accurately. This is something that must be experienced.  #LochCreranOysters

The shallot vinegar was something else completely; I was drinking it by the spoon-full. The carnage. Home smoked Venison, Arbroath smokie mayonnaise, haggis bon bons £8.50 Honestly, the oysters were so good that I don’t remember how this dish was. I vaguely recall the fried haggis bon bons were awesome with the mayo.
Chilled Scottish Seafood Platter: Lime & ginger hot smoked salmon, sliced gravadlax, damson & gin cured salmon carpaccio of Monkfish, crayfish salsa, pickled sweet onion, brown shrimp & rocket salad, ciabatta bread £10.00 /£19.50 . Are you kidding me?  I don’t know why I ordered salmon and monkfish after the best oysters ever. They paled in comparison to the oysters.

Just for the oysters and the haggis (read my haggis post here), I will fly the seven hours to Edinbrugh again. These Loch Creran oysters are the best I have ever had in my life. #Oysters  The world really is my oyster.

Read my prior oysters experiences below so that you know I am not a newbie to oysters. And the number next to each of the posts indicates their ranking of the oyster excellence. It’s obvious that the closer the restaurant to where the oysters are bred, the better the eating.

  1. Oysters! Elm Street Oyster House in Greenwich, CT
  2. Wanderlust – Goombays Grille & Raw Bar in Kill Devil Hills, NC.  Solved My Small Appetite Problem.
  3. La Boite Huitres, The Oyster Box, at the Marché Jean-Talon in Montreal
  4. Psari Seafood Restaurant in Long Island City, NY- Extremely Fresh Seafood, Pleasing Oysters and Clams
  5. Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish in North Salem, NY – Celebrating a New Beginning and Old Friendships. Oysters and Scallops!
  6. Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant in NYC – A Slice of Heaven
  7. Ten Twenty Post in Darien CT – Oysters! Oysters! Oysters!

This experience took place at

Fishers

58 Thistle Street
Edinburgh EH2 1EN,UK
Tel: +44 0131 225 5109

Wanderlust – Goombays Grille & Raw Bar in Kill Devil Hills, NC.  Solved My Small Appetite Problem.

#Wanderlust continues with seafood!  There is nothing better than eating lots of raw oysters (local and fresh from North Carolina), steamed shrimps, crab legs and clams.  This will be my Easter Sunday brunch! I walked into Goombays Grille & Raw Bar in Kill Devil Hills, NC on N. Virginia Dare Trail, just two miles down from where I stayed last night.  Seeing that I was alone, I was immediately offered a seat at the bar where everyone is twice my age.  I thought that was very cute.  With my anti-social mood, I chose to sit at a table by the window.

 Here are my oysters.  Supposed to be a dozen but they gave me eleven.  I stopped the waitress and asked whether a dozen is defined as 12 per!  She came back and gave me two more to make it a baker’s dozen.  The shucking was not the best…  But for $12.99 a dozen, I cleaned them myself. This is the after math.  Elyssa, I did this for you!  It was delicious.  You could taste the seaweed and the slightly smoky flavor of the NortnCarolina water.  Also tasted alkaline.  Very different from the oysters around NY.

 The Steamed Platter Combo – crab legs, clams and the shrimps.  The Goombays is a Caribbean themed and focused restaurant.  The rub on the shrimps had a herb that I was not a fan of.  It is called JO – a variation of the old bay but it is a secret ingredient of Goombays.  The clams were small but juicy. The crab legs were boiled in water that is a tad too salty. Regardless, this is what I have done.  The seafood was fresh.  The oysters were the best since no cooking was involved.  The steamed combo was average.  The execution was not perfect.  The ingredients carried the dish.  Aah.  Still satisfied.  What a variety of seafood I just had.  I did it all myself!  The entire meal plus tip was $46.60.  Not too bad for fresh seafood.

Recommend.  :). Happy Easter with Oysters! 

This experience took place at

Goombays Grille & Bar in Kill Devil Hills, NC

1608 N Virginia Dare Trail, 

Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

(252) 441-6001

Ten Twenty Post in Darien CT – Oysters! Oysters! Oysters!

On a cold February night, I shared a dozen and a half of oysters with my friend, E, at Ten Twenty Post in Darien, CT. It is a seafood restaurant that is filled with middle-aged folks and older folks. We felt a bit out-of-place. But no matter, we were there for the oysters. We started immediately with a dozen oysters and truffle fries.

IMG_1658
We started with the east coast oysters and made our way west.

East Coast: There is the Raspberry Point, Irish Point,and Blue Point. The Blue Point won for me that night – with a nice combination of salinity and the taste of iron and mineral.

West Coast: Pacific Orchard, Komo Gway, and Kumamoto. Surprisingly the Komo Gway was the best, surpassing the Kumamoto. The Kumamoto under-performed for being less creamy, meaty, and buttery. Just writing about this now brings me back the sensation of slurpping up the juices and swallowing the oysters.

The oysters rarely disappoint. Usually, it’s the human that disappoints. This statement can pretty much be applied to everything in life. Machines vs. humans? Machine! Oysters vs. humans? Oysters! Many oysters we had that night were not shucked properly and contained a lot of shells. When we inquired politely about whether they had a new guy in the kitchen, the bar tender gave us real attitudes. This particular bar tender had a crooked face and seemed to think that he knows so much better than the paying customers.

IMG_1659
Truffle fries: E and I always order the truffle fries to go with our oysters. It’s a tradition she taught me. It slows down how fast I eat the oysters. It’s a pacer.

IMG_1660
By the time we got to dessert, we were still hungry. We had 1.5 dozen of oysters, two orders of fries and this bread pudding. Again, the mistake we made was asking the human to recommend a dessert. We went with the recommendation and it was terrible.

Not too proud of ourselves, we still finished the dessert due to hunger. When the waiter asked how it was, we told the truth and were mocked. Both E and I were a little surprised at how rude he was.

To the Management of Ten Twenty Post: We love oysters. We wanted to love your restaurant. But your staff was discourteous and your oysters were not shucked properly. We hope this post gets a high search engine ranking and shows up on all your organic search results. If your sister restaurant, Elm Street Oysters House can offer great service and oysters, so can you. And most importantly, the customers are always right.

In conclusion, I profess my love for eating these little creatures. I just need to be careful where I go to fulfill my heart’s desire.  It has been almost a month now.  It is probably time for oysters again. Who is with me?

This terrible experience took place at

Ten Twenty Post
1020 Post Road,
Darien, CT 06820
(203) 655-1020

Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish in North Salem, NY – Celebrating a New Beginning and Old Friendships. Oysters and Scallops!

My friend Lisa and I went to Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish for lunch on New Year’s Eve. Lisa and I went way back; we started working at roughly the same time and we stayed friends throughout different jobs, companies, geographic locations and men. We have watched each other grow as people and as professionals. 2014 was a transitional year for both Lisa and me and we gathered here to send away 2014 and welcome a new beginning.

Purdy’s Farmers & the Fish is a restaurant located in North Salem, NY, right off 684. It uses locally grown produce – in fact they buy land and grow their own produce right there on premise. They have a farm shop, located next to their market, that sells the produce and fish. It is a very exciting combination for those of us live in the suburbs and are constantly looking for organic produce and good quality seafood. The restaurant is in an old house that dates back to 1775, where the floor is slanted but made with beautiful polished wood. This restaurant not only has fresh scrumptious food but also the ambience and the practice of a farm. This is probably as close to your food as anyone can living in the Westchester County, NY.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2015/01/img_1592.jpg
It’s only fitting that we started our meal with a champagne to celebrate a new beginning and our old friendship.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2015/01/img_1591.jpg
We decided to splurge and had oysters! We had: Malpeque (PEI) ~ Medium. Mild in salinity, plump meats with light minerality and slightly sweet finish; Spinney Creek (ME) ~ Medium. Medium salinity. Bright and crisp with lettuce, lingering finish; Baynes Sound (VAN) ~ Large. Medium salinity. Clean, bright flavor with cucumber finish; Wellfleet (MA) ~ Medium. Medium/High salinity. Noted for its bright crisp finish; and a couple more that I could not recall. I should have taken better notes! Complete raw bar menu here.

The oysters were heavenly, succulent, briny, crystal clear, sharp and smooth. See these prior posts on how I really feel about oysters – I absolutely love oysters but I am yet to meet my oyster. #OysterLovers  #Oysters

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2015/01/img_1593.jpg
Purdy’s Clam Chowder: nothing beats a good clam chowder. 🙂

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2015/01/img_1596.jpg
DOWNEAST Lobster Roll ~ warm, naked & buttered OR chilled, garden cuc’s & lemon aioli. I have to tell you that this was pretty awesome, except for the fact that Lisa’s dish was so much better. I made the error of trying her dish soon after I started mine. At first, I was absolutely satisfied with my warm lobster roll – the lobster was fresh; the meat has a strong elasticity; the taste is exactly as described and pretty much what I wanted. But after I tried Lisa’s dish, the lobster roll became too greasy with butter. Instead of fries, I got the polenta fries. That sounded good but was such a mistake. Polenta should not be deep-fried; should be pan-fried instead.  #Lobsters

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2015/01/img_1594.jpg
Seared Scallop Salad~ crispy bacon & fingerling potatoes, sunny side up egg, lemon EVOO. This was the best! The scallops were done to perfection. The egg and the fingerling potatoes topped with bacon were sooo good. Lisa insisted that I put all the ingredients together into one bite. She is right! It delivered a complete sensation for the mouth and the head. I need to go back and order this salad for myself. #Scallops

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2015/01/img_1597.jpg
This is the Key Lime Mousse.  It was so much better than what we expected.  The sourness of the key lime and the sweetness of the whip cream combined with the blackberries on top… And the formation and the texture of the mousse: a little hard on the outside but when you dig in, all you get is the nice gooeyness that speaks to the tongue.  It was luscious and exquisite. #KeyLimeMousse

Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish is my new favorite restaurant.  Can’t wait to go back and try all the other oysters on the menu.  Cheers to a new beginning and old friendships with much love! Wish everyday can be a day filled with special memories and sensations.

This experience took place at

Purdy’s Farmers & the Fish
100 TITICUS ROAD
NORTH SALEM (or Purdys), NY 10560
(914) 617-8380

Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant in NYC – A Slice of Heaven

On two occasions, I was at the Grand Central Station for the famous Oyster Bar & Restaurant in New York City. I was really excited since I had never been to this landmark restaurant.  Grand Central is a major transportation hub in NYC, 750 thousand people pass through GCT on a daily basis and over one million during the holidays. I can imagine the kind of business a popular and well-run restaurant like the #OysterBar could make in the Grand Central Station.

IMG_1423.JPG
Simple bread sticks, bread and chunks of butter. The butter was so cold that it was impossible to spread it.

IMG_1424.JPG
Fried Calamari. Had much better at Elm Street Oyster House in Greenwich, CT. The calamari here was not as fresh and had too much grease.

IMG_1425.JPG
The famous Clam Chowder. Not exactly sure why it is famous because it was a bit salty and nothing very special. So far, I was so unimpressed.

IMG_1426.JPG
Medley of Shellfish: 10 oysters, 2 clams, 2 shrimp cocktail, 3 mussels, and one whole lobster. Ok, this is why the Oyster Bar is the “Oyster Bar.” This medley was excellent and made me so very happy. I used my fingers and licked them. The oysters were better than finger licking good. It was a slice of heaven.

IMG_1427.JPG
Look at the raw clams; they are the pick ones. They were succulent, meaty, and with a lot of sea. Reminded me of kisses.

IMG_1428.JPG
See the oysters and the lobster claw? The oyster on the far right was very creamy, probably a Kumamoto. Mmm.  Mmm.  Good.  Each one of the oysters tasted different, much like people.

IMG_1429.JPG
This is the Chocolate Mousse cake. It was ok.

wpid-20141103_201637.jpg
This is a fruit pie with ice cream. Nothing to write home about. I would not repeat dessert at the Oyster Bar.

The restaurant was very noisy and very crowded on Monday and Tuesday nights. The wait staff were mostly older gentlemen who did not have the best table side manners. This is not a restaurant to come to have a romantic dinner but a restaurant for serious oysters eating. They do their oysters the best. The oysters are excellent.

One regret though, they don’t label the oysters on the tray nor do they tell you the names when they bring the tray. Seems like an easy thing to improve on and it would help the newbies to fall in love with the oyster heaven.  Worth the money.  Thumbs up.

This experience took place at

Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Lower Level, Grand Central Terminal,
89 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017
212-490-6650