Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar

LOGO

Lower Level, Grand Central Terminal, 89 E 42nd St., Lower Level, Grand Central Terminal, 89 E 42nd St., New York, New York, 10017, USA

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Looking down the main area (Click on Pictures for Larger View). Photo by author.

Situated within the bowels of the Grand Central Railway Terminal opened in 1913, The Oyster Bar simultaneously started business as the more pedestrian named Grand Central Terminal Restaurant and has been in near continuous operation ever since.

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Looking at the counter bar. Photo by author.

Originally designed by architect Raphael Gustavino, The Oyster Bar has served clam chowders and oysters to various passengers and local business people for decades. Apparently influenced by the French in both its Beuax Arts styling and the food served within its space, it comes as little surprise that The Oyster Bar received weekly imports of produce from Paris up to the mid 1990s until the costs were considered too prohibitive.

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The Grand Central Terminal Restaurant Space Circa 1913. Photo stolen from the web.

According to Henry Chancellor’s fantastic book, ‘James Bond and his World’, this was Ian Fleming’s self described favourite restaurant in America and he would visit every time he was in New York. His preference was apparently oyster soup mixed with cream, paprika and Worcestershire sauce with a bottle of Miller’s High Life beer to wash it down.

Miller High Life Ad

Miller High Life Beer Ad. Photo Stolen From the Web.

The space was predominantly owned and operated in the late 20th century by a restaurateur named Jerome Brody who also controlled at various times other New York culinary institutions such as the Four Seasons and the Rainbow Room.

Jermoe Brody (Slinging Hash)

Jerome Brody (In white coat slinging hash). Photo stolen from the web.

Famed for turning the Rainbow Room from a shell of its former self into a hangout for the famous faces of the mid 1960s and 1970s, and the Four Seasons (located within the modernist marvel Seagram Building) into the penultimate theme restaurant of its day, Mr Brody was astute operator who generally got other people to front the money for the space and renovations whilst he provided the acumen and ability to give their buildings cache and foot traffic.

This phoenix like ability to transform dead institutions into culinary gold was likely on the mind of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority when they asked him to take over The Oyster Bar in 1974 for having fallen into disrepair and been shuttered at the time of his appointment, the space was in desperate need of a steady hand.

Mr Brody improved the food, creating daily varieties of oysters, adding a larger number of modern dishes to the menu and fashioned a seafood focussed wine list any sommelier would be proud of. The result spoke for itself and The Oyster Bar again became a destination that any serious food lover would wish to visit.

According to a magazine article in Australian Business Insider, the produce is sourced from a fish market in The Bronx early every morning which surprises the shit out of me, as I – thanks to my 1980s cultural upbringing – only associate the Bronx with hip hop and urban decay. A further selection is provided by the Atwood Lobster Company which is based out of Maine, and the famed oysters themselves are shipped from Connecticut.

I went there just before 9.30pm on a Friday evening, sat at the end of the counter and was informed that the food service was about to finish. Having repeatedly heard that New York was the city that never sleeps, I was a little surprised to find an institution like this stops serving food after 9.30pm on a Friday. Particularly in such a central location that could keep providing customers well after that time. Nonetheless, I asked the guy behind the counter to give me an assortment of a ten oysters that he himself would recommend and ordered an IPA.

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Counter setting with a neighbour’s detritus plainly visible. Photo by author.

They had a variety of condiments, including the aforementioned Ian Fleming favourite of crackers, traditional salt and pepper, classic Tabasco sauce and its more modern variant Cholula.

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The condiments on offer. The reality is plain is best. Photo by author.

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I shucked these fuckers in about two minutes. Photo by author.

Gotta say, they were some good oysters (the Belon in particular) and I wish I had requested double when I had still had the chance to actually order them.

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Menu obviously subject to change. Photo by author.

Bill with tip was around $50 for ten oysters and a beer and although pricy was one of the best (if most basic) meals I had while in the U.S.A. If I lived in the area, I would be there regularly, surveying the internationalist interior of the Met Life (previously Pan Am building) and chowing down on some of the best the sea has to offer.

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Paying with my crisp folded tourist dollars. Photo by author.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

LINKS:

http://www.oysterbarny.com/

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/record/archives/vol21/vol21_iss25/record2125.17.html

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/oyster-bar-at-grand-central-station-2012-3

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Culture Snappin’ USA – Part One

Recently I had the good fortune to be able to go to the United States. Time was limited at just under 2 weeks and I elected to go to the places that interested me the most, primarily New York and northern California.

The reason for wanting to go to those cities so much is that I was weaned on 1960s / 1970s movies and pop culture and wished to make an effort to see many of the places I had either seen in movies or only read about in books. Whilst there, I frequently attempted to match the reality with the image… something I call Culture Snappin’ (trademark pending).

Obviously this has been done before, and certainly more successfully. However, to the best of my knowledge, no one calls it Culture Snappin’ and frankly, I’d like to see the name stick. [Click on pictures for larger view].

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Dirty Harry (1971)

Orphans

The Warriors (1979)

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Dirty Harry (1971)

DH2

Dirty Harry (1971)

Sudden Impact Logo

Sudden Impact (1983)

Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Misty

Play Misty For Me (1971)

Subway

Death Wish (1974)

The Enforcer

The Enforcer (1976)

Physical Graffitti

Physical Graffiti album cover (1975)

Lost Boys Bikes

The Lost Boys (1987)

Magnum Force Gusman

Magnum Force (1973)

Bullitt Crossing

Bullitt (1968)

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Dirty Harry (1971)

Regrettably, culture snappin’ isn’t always easy. For example, trying to match up a famous photo of Steve McQueen with the exact corner he stole a newspaper from in Bullitt, necessitated me squatting in the middle of the street. This was literally impossible at 5.15 in the afternoon and I nearly had my ass removed by car bumpers in the attempt before giving up and taking this flawed version seen below:

Bullit Market

Bullitt (1968)

Similarly, the site of Ricca’s bloody death from 1973’s Magnum Force posed a problem as it is located right near a Freeway exit ramp and similarly requires a middle of the street low angle to pull it off. No easy feat at 3.30pm on a weekday, so this picture doesn’t match as I’d like either.

Magnum Force Ricca

Magnum Force (1973)

The building featured in Dirty Harry where he pulls a potential jumper from a building, was surrounded by homeless / crazy people at 1.30am when I took this picture. I literally had to wait for the all clear before leaping out of my car and taking the photo as quickly as possible while a basehead looking guy (reminiscent of Flava Flav’s lean years) repeatedly circled the block screaming ‘What time is it’!

Polk Logo

Dirty Harry (1971)

While this photo of the Cost Plus store used in Magnum Force (1973) is slightly flawed, I plead circumstance as I was fearful of waking the homeless guy who lay sleeping on the other side of the picture I am holding up.

Magnum Force Robbery

Magnum Force (1973)

My culture snappin’ was not limited to films either. I also managed to find cultural landmarks such as where John Gotti held meetings, album covers (such as those of Paul’s Boutique and Physical Graffiti), artistic touch stones in Greenwich Village, punk landmarks in The East Village/Bowery and places where Mafiosi met their ends, such as Joe Gallo in Mulberry Street.

Umbertos

Suffice to say, I got 28 GB of photos/video to sort out, so more to come as time and inclination permits. This is also dependent upon people not stealing my shit and claiming it as their own (see post below).

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.