Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar - 6th St & 2nd Ave

Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar
101 2nd Ave

Mermaid Inn casts a pretty big shadow over its stretch of 2nd Ave in the East Village, but be careful not to overlook its competition. Nestled in between an old-fashioned drugstore and a long empty space-to-rent is an unassuming, albeit charming, sliver of a seafood restaurant that is much more deserving of your attention.

Make sure you don’t pass by this hidden pearl of an oyster bar!

Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar (given the unfortunate moniker “JLOB”) has enough tables to seat 24, but try to get a seat at the eight-person raw bar, if you can. It’s a fun experience, watching the chefs prepare food for the evening, and when you spot something particularly delicious, it might help winnow down the menu’s fantastic choices for you.

The menu offers an assortment of small plates, divided into five categories: Raw Bar, From the Garden, From the Ocean, From the Field & Air, and Dessert. Six dishes should make a pleasantly filling meal for two, and it’s worthwhile to sample from each menu category.

Start with Six Oysters Two Ways, a selection of East and West coast oysters, before waltzing through the rest of the menu. JLOB’s salads don’t disappoint, but for a true delight, try the Kabocha Squash soup. Its wintry description belies a light and surprising soup, where a hearty, cheddar cheese foam rests atop a savory soup, lightly sweetened by the presence of crisp, chopped apples and little studs of maple candy. The selections “from the Field & Air” are good, like a roasted suckling pig on one occasion, but the true standouts at JLOB are as they should be - from the Ocean.

The clams and chorizo are served in a cast iron skillet with a roasted tomato-garlic broth that will leave you asking for more bread - and wishing you’d ordered a second round! A butter-poached lobster is fantastically tender and as delicious as it sounds, and the artic char confit is wonderful, marrying tart, Greek yoghurt with spicy shishito peppers and root vegetable “crisps”. It is through no coincidence that the chef’s tasting menu spends most of its time in this section.

The desserts are simple with playful flavor combinations, as with a ricotta beignet served with basil and lavender-soaked strawberries. The cheese plate offers a fine selection of hard and soft cheeses, but its accompaniments (spicy nectarine jam, pine nut butter, and actual honeycomb) make it a necessary part of the meal - buck tradition and ask for this to follow your oysters.

If you’re looking for a wonderful seafood dinner in the East Village, try not to be distracted by the reputation across the street - settle in for an evening at JLOB and enjoy yourself!

1 comment:

  1. What a neat little gem tucked. The place is so unassuming. Not crazy about oysters, but willing to try them again next time I am back in NYC.