No. 22 of our 100 Days/100 Dishes count-up, and white like library paste, the Oyster Bar’s New England clam chowder is one of the glories of Yankee cooking.
Though not really part of New England (you have to go a few miles northeast to Connecticut to be part of that sainted realm), NYC can boast one of the best Yankee restaurants in the world — the Oyster Bar on the lower level of Grand Central Station.
Sit at the snaking lunch counter and enjoy the dishes the Oyster Bar is famous for — including shellfish pan roasts, creamy and lightly kissed with ketchup, cooked up in a strange steaming contraption as you watch; raw oysters from the East and West Coasts in a profusion of varieties; the freshest raw sea urchin of any place in town, served in its bumpy green shell; and a pair of competing chowders — New England-style, cream-based; and the red, Italian-inspired article, sometimes known as Manhattan clam chowder.
Sorry, but I’d go for the New England variety any day of the week. Relatively inexpensive, it’s dotted with chopped clams (more than you’d expect or maybe feel like you deserve), plus cubed potatoes and a whiff of bacon. The broad bowl comes sided with oyster crackers in unlimited numbers, in addition to a tiny biscuit, and a few lavash — which must be a fairly recent addition, but very satisfactory nonetheless.
Grand Central Terminal
89 East 42nd Street
100 Days/100 Dishes is an almost-random alphabetical collection of delicious dishes from around the five boroughs. See the entire series so far.
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