Oyster Bar At Grand Central Station

10 Aug

I am reading Julia Child’s cookbook “From Julia Child’s Kitchen”.

It’s a fun book. Not only for her great recipes; it’s a very personal book with lots of mini-stories.

On page 171, she has a story about, and a recipe for Oyster Stew.

She wrote:

One of the in-group places to go for a supper or a snack in the New York of the 1930’s was Grand Central Station’s Oyster Bar. You sat up on a stool and peered over the counter into a series of steam bowls, where they made their famous oyster stew. It was so good I took notes on how the old chefs made it, and this is my version.”

I had never actually eaten at Oyster Bar. Why not? No good reason, at all!

I said to myself: “Self – in the interest of the blog, I must not be selfish. I must go check it out, just so I can share the experience with my loyal readers – New Yorkers and non New Yorkers alike – who want to know about Grand Central Station’s Oyster Bar.”

So, I went.

Any opportunity I have to go in this glorious building I will gladly take.

Did you know that the Terminal was restored recently, in particular the ceiling – to remove decades of grime (it turned out to be tar and nicotine buildup from tobacco smoke over almost 100 years!)  They left a tiny section covered with the gunk, just because:

See it there, in the upper left? It’s in the Northwest corner of the ceiling.

Before the restoration, the entire ceiling looked like that one section!

I also wanted to see what the progress was on the future Apple Store site. This is all that’s there right now:

So now, on to the main event!

Oyster Bar!

This restaurant first opened in 1913.

I made my way to the bar, where Julia had sat in 1937, and where she watched the stew making.

I sat, and just as Julia did, and so many others since 1913 (!), I watched the stew making.

The soup chef has his soup-making station. That’s what he does – he makes each bowl to order! I watched him add the cream, the oysters, the bread, the shrimp, whatever his ingredients are for that particular bowl. In the picture above, he is pouring the soup from the small cooking pot into the bowl to serve.

And, here is my bowl of oyster stew:

and here is one of the six plump, fresh oysters in my bowl of stew:

It was absolutely divine.

The lady sitting next to me enjoyed a platter of freshly shucked oysters.

They have signs up telling what is fresh and available that day.

If you’re in the area, stop in – sit at the bar – and enjoy a bowl of oyster stew that was made just for you!

And, here is Julia’s recipe. If you like it, please buy the book, available at Amazon.com, and most likely at your favorite book seller.

Julia Child’s Grand Central Oyster Stew, Vintage 1937

3 or more Tb butter

1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp celery salt

6 to 8 large oysters, drained, and the juices reserved

1 1/2 cups light cream (or half milk and half heavy cream)

Salt and white pepper


Oyster crackers

 Melt 3 tablespoons of butter to bubbling in a saucepan, add the Worcestershire and celery salt, then the oysters.  Cook, swirling pan, for 2 minutes, or until the oysters’ edges begin to curl. Add the oyster juices and cream, and bring to just the simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and turn into a soup bowl. Float a spoonful of butter on top, sprinkle over it a good dash of paprika, and serve at once, accompanied by the crackers. 




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