Oysters and beer have sustained New Yorkers since they were New Amsterdammers. Only those early Knickerbockers could save their precious gulden for buying booze: The harbor then teemed with oyster beds, free for the raiding. Modern-day Manhattanites, on the other hand, have to treat the shellfish as a luxury rather than a staple, often downing them in pricey bistros with fake-French decor, stenciled mirrors, and mock-crumbling plaster. Café Deville, one such bistro, at least understands that oyster lovers still have rent to pay. From 4 to 8 p.m. every day, connoisseurs of the bivalve sidle up to the long metal bar to consume $3 pints of Brooklyn Lager, Stella Artois, or Sierra Nevada and, for a buck apiece, plump, briny bluepoints served in icy seaweed-laced trays with mignonette, horseradish, lemon, and cocktail sauce. Techno music blares, and the martini-sipping yuppies who usually patronize the place swap dull anecdotes—but ignoring them suddenly gets easy. Alternating gulps of Long Island’s own bluepoints with mouthfuls of Brooklyn (on the tip of Long Island, anyway) Lager creates a home state euphoria so potent that it’s easy to imagine how oysters and brew must have enabled those first settlers to endure the dreary atmosphere of their first winters in the New World.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 8, 2005