Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sticking with the Original at Pearl Oyster Bar

Question: when is paying $24 for a sandwich considered reasonable?

Answer: when that sandwich is stuffed with fresh LOBSTER!

For a bunch of non-New Englanders, New Yorkers sure love lobster rolls. Each year as the temperature outside rises so too does demand for this New England classic. Fortunately, New York offers a vast array of options for lobster addicts to get their "fix;" ranging from full-fledged restaurants to even an underground operation ran out of a Brooklyn apartment. So with all of these options who makes the best lobster roll? As with any Chowhound thread entitled "the best..." there is never a consensus and I usually avoid such nonsense. Like mayonnaise on your lobster roll? Go to Mary's Fish Camp (Manhattan or Brooklyn location). Prefer yours au naturel? Head to Luke's Lobster. From gourmet (BLT Fish) to spartan (Red Hook Lobster Pound) the possibilities are limitless. But when I'm jonesing for a lobster roll I head to Pearl Oyster Bar, and it seems I'm not alone as the place is packed each night. Come too late and you run the risk that Pearl will sell out of their signature item.

Pearl Oyster Bar's menu includes more than just oysters and lobster rolls and while you can't go wrong with anything on the menu I always seem to order the same things. With oyster in its name how could you come here and not order any of these tasty bivalves? I suggest going with the Deep Fried Oysters. Six perfectly fried oysters are served on the half-shell atop house-made tartar sauce. A flavorful and crunchy exterior is juxtaposed with a moist and briny oyster that tastes of the ocean.

But on to the much-hyped Lobster Roll. Huge chunks of lobster, lightly dressed in mayonnaise come nestled in a buttered hot dog bun. This isn't some sketchy knock-off lobster roll with a bunch of cheap filling, instead, large pieces of meat taken from the tail, claw and knuckle (my favorite) are simply seasoned allowing the natural sweetness of the fresh lobster to shine.

Accompanying this sandwich are Pearl's Shoestring Fries. These thin shards of fried potato are difficult to eat but are worth the hassle and are delicious when doused with malt vinegar.

Its said that imitation is the highest form of flattery and that is certainly the case with Pearl Oyster Bar. When a former sous chef, Ed McFarland, started his own restaurant (Ed's Lobster Bar) he was sued by Pearl Oyster Bar owner Rebecca Charles for plagiarizing Pearl's concept and recipes. Like 99% of all lawsuits, this dispute ended in an out-of-court settlement and Ed's now serves a slightly different version. Litigation averted, you can now act as judge, jury and executioner and decide which lobster roll you prefer. But whatever your verdict, I'll continue to stick with the original at Pearl Oyster Bar.

Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 691-8211

To see all our pics, please click the flickr link.

Pearl Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

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