I’m a pretty lucky girl in that I can’t remember the last bad meal I had in New York. (Well, actaully, that’s not entirely true. The McDonald’s Happy Meal I had while inebriated on new year’s eve in the Lower East Side wasn’t exactly one of the better dining moments I’ve had, but why even bother counting that?)
I not only don’t really have bad meals, I actually tend to have lots of really great meals. Some so incredibly awesome that I dwell on them, long after they’ve been digested.
Last week, for example, the boy and I ate at the recently opened John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. In fact, I woke up thinking about it the next day, wondering dreamily as I lay in bed, Did that really happen? ‘Cause God it was good. Like a lovesick schoolgirl, I want to doodle I ♥ JD on my notebooks and sign my name Angie Dory Oyster Bar, just to see what it would look like.
It being an oyster bar and all, we of course had to get some of the not-so-attractive but oh-so-delicious mollusks. To give ourselves a taste of everything, we opted for the platter of East coast and West coast oysters, of which we got three kinds for each coast. Two shells in the middle contained spicy horseradish and a zesty blend of juices and herbs, each perfect for gently dabbing on top of the silky smooth oysters before being slurped down. I’m not an oyster expert but these seemed pretty perfect to me in their briney, peppery juiciness. They tasted like everything that is good about summer days at the beach.
Then from the crudo portion of the menu, we ordered the razor clam ceviche, which truth be told, looked nothing like any ceviche I’ve ever had, but was world’s better than anything I could’ve ever expected. Instead of the usual chunks of raw fish marinated in onion, cilantro, herbs, lime and other acidic juices, what showed up at our table in a small terracotta bowl looked at first glance, like mac and cheese. While it tasted nothing like it, and was instead zesty, salty (like the sea, not as in a heavy hand with the salt shaker) and bold, it did have the same creamy, thick, buttery consistency of mac and cheese. Underneath it was an emerald green, puree-like sauce which gave it a little familiarity in that it tasted like bright, fresh cilantro. The oysters were great, but it was this take on ceviche that had me smitten.
Next, were our selections from the small plates. In a word, the chorizo stuffed squid with smoked tomato was: fantastic. But one word is not nearly enough. It was phenomenal. Spectacular. Ridiculous. The stuff foodie dreams are made of! The squid meat was tender and soft, the chorizo spicy and bright, and the tomatoes smokey, tangy and juicy. If I had to choose a last meal, this would probably be included (in such large quantities however, that it might be the thing to kill me).
Our other small plate was the octopus with potatoes and aioli. Now, I should explain that octopus, when I can tell what it is, meaning when I can see its tentacles with all the little suckers clearly visible, usually irks me. And that’s exaclty how this one came: a couple of fat, easily recognizable tentacles, suckers up, on top of some creamy chunks of potatoes. But there was no time for hesitation here . And thank God, because that octopus was amazing— thick and plump, soft and wonderful. The potatoes underneath were great too in their creamy, velvety over of aioli. Sigh, aioli. What wouldn’t I eat covered in it?
The end of our savory food was bitter-sweet. Everything was so delicious that we just wanted to order more, keep trying things until we had had them all, and even have more of the ones we already had, but we knew we shouldn’t. There was dessert to be had. And that, is always a good thing. We were intrigued by the eccles cake, mostly because neither I nor Flaneur knew what it was. It turned out to be pretty interesting. Eccles cake is a sugar crusted, flaky pastry typical of British tea time. Ours was round, slightly bigger than a golfball, and filled with a dark, tart currant filling. Underneath it, was a slice of Stilton cheese. Originally we both thought this dessert was tiny but when we cut into it with our forks we understood why it had to be that way. The small slice of cheese belied a much bigger taste. Any larger and this strong, smelly cheese would’ve been too much. With the crispy, crunchy, sweet but tart eccles cake, it was just enough to be a perfect pairing.
Our other dessert was the sweeter, definitely less stinky (though I’m certainly not knocking the stinkiness factor) chocolate pot with whiskey cream. A thick and creamy mousse like chocolate was topped with a frothy whipped cream to make for a wonderfully sweet, fluffy dessert. But to play off it’s light consistency and soft texture, there was a delicious chewy oat cookie. Not as unusual as the eccles, but in keeping with the theme of the night, it was deeeeeelicious.
John Dory Oyster Bar, I officially love you. Me + You 4 Ever.