Under Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan is a wonderful old restaurant set under a scalloped tile roof which reminds me of the underground cellars of Barolo-though bigger spans.
Part of the 500 px restaurant is an oyster bar sporting a selection of 20+ regional origin oysters (AUD 2.50-3.00 each) with numerous shuckers at work. In the restaurant section (split-part is long trestle tables holding up to 50, the remainder is tables) I took a 12 oyster selection (AUD 37.75) from 4 regions. I asked for the most popular and received Blackberry Point (Prince Edward-Canada); Kumamoto (Oregon); Meximoto (California) and Wellfleet (Massachusetts). The west coast was saltier than the east, which is creamier and milder, though also more subtle in the sea flavours, and smaller. As a Sydney rock lover I prefer small, creamy mouthfuls rather than the overly aromatic, large, flat Pacific oyster which can miss on delicacy. Washing it down was a Leib North Fork Reserve Pinot Blanc 2007 from a manicured vineyard on Long Island, NY(AUD 11.20/glass), 12.5% alcohol, pale, aromatic, unwooded, less flesh than grigio, mildly acidic and a great local oyster flusher. I chose to miss the accompaniments due to my love for the subtle seaflavours, yet the spiced red fruits vinegar was very good, no VA.http://www.liebcellars.com/
Next had to be a fat-clawed 350 g Maine lobster which grinned at me from the live lobster tank on arrival, steamed (AUD 55.50); and easy to eat natural with the bib provided. Selecting a Highland “Seco Highlands” Pinot Noir 2006 (AUD 20/glass), Arroyo Seco in Monterey was a waste of time exercise; dull colour, blues, little pinot aroma, without the telltale sweet fruit, and bitter-finishing. The accompaniment was a huge jar of home-made coarse horseradish paste as well as various chilli sauces that did not fit the subtlety of this top lobster taste experience.
The wines were not poured at the table so there is no recall of bottle shape, label nor closure (if anything else but cork – in this bizarre land that misses on what cork does to wine character). And when inquiring about the local rose, Bridge Lane Merlot 2008, North Fork, Long Island, NY (AUD 10.60/glass), the staff were very protective about it being an orange and not purple rose, obviously being a bled juice from the company’s mainstream merlot production-a common activity for this grape to chase concentration. Probably it would have better matched the lobster.
The wine list held 10 sparklings, 25 chardonnay (Cullen 2004 and Phillip Shaw no 11 2006), 21 sauvignon (Cloudy Bay 2008), 20 rieslings (Jacob’s Creek Steingarten 2005), 6 viognier (Shinas 2007), 7 chenin, 5 white pinots (Robert Oatley Pinot Grigio 2008), 6 Traminers, 18 other whites (St Hallett Poachers 2007, Arrowfield Sophie’s Bridge Verdelho), 8 sherries, 28 cabernets (Vinaceous Raconteur 2007), 15 merlot, 11 zinfandel, 23 pinots, 6 shiraz, 7 cabernet franc, 12 other reds (1847 Home Block Petit Verdot 2004), 3 rose, 2 dessert table and 9 ports.
Given the global warming that is happening New Yorkers have a greater supply of top eastern Americas wines from a range of superior grape varieties. And they ought to support them as much as their “I love NY symbol” now. Grand Central Oyster bar is trying, it just needs more dollars spent by the locals on top of us wine tourists in order to blossom.
The verdict-AUD 120 px with tips-grand ingredients, not great value, still expensive compared with an equivalent Oz seafood serve, fabulous deco architecture, worth the experience to taste local drops, 14.5/20.http://www.oysterbarny.com/
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