Every time we visit we sit up at the bar so we can watch the theatre. It smells clean and salty like a beach. The unopened oysters are stacked in metal bins under ice. The oysters shuckers are quick with the knife and the oysters flick open. One man’s job is to cook bowl after bowl of seafood chowder in two metal contraptions more suited to a science lab. We get whiffs of creamy seafood stew when he pours it into the bowls. The steam billows up around him like the steam from the road grids in Manhattan.
We always order the same thing: a glass of champagne and a mixed dozen oysters each. The varieties of oysters make us east coast Australians drool: Belon from Maine, Blue Diamonds from Washington, Cuttyhunk from Massachuesetts, and the list comes out at more than a dozen.
But it’s not just for us that we keep coming back here. Once we took a dear friend there knowing he would love it. The Oyster Bar became one of his favourite places in New York too. Sadly he died a few years ago.
Today it feels as if he is sitting up at the bar with us, slurping the salty oysters through his teeth, holding up his glass for yet another toast to some wonderful aspect of our lives, just as he did in that one long fabulous lunch we shared here. Here, more strongly than anywhere else, I’m reminded of him.