April Bloomfield of Spotted Pig fame also has a seafood restaurant located on the other side of the Ace Hotel (Breslin is her other restaurant located at the Ace), John Dory Oyster Bar. Cookie Monster and I happened to be in the Flatiron district the other day for an appointment and we were thinking of places we could grab some dinner. We decided that we would try our luck with Breslin or John Dory Oyster Bar. I’ve dined at Breslin so I was super keen on trying John Dory. Luck would have it – the wait was 30 minutes at John Dory versus the hour long wait at Breslin!
We were seated in a somewhat awkward little window nook near the server station.
I had been sipping on one of the many cocktails created by famous Sasha Petraske (of Milk and Honey). I cannot remember what it’s called and of course it’s not on the website or any menu I can find so it must be a very new addition. I can tell you it had cucumber, lime and tequila among other things. I really liked how the cucumbers added a fresh clean taste to the drink and it wasn’t overly sweet either.
We decided to get a bunch of things to share. Cookie Monster’s first choice was the roasted beets bruschetta:
This tasted way better than I thought it looked. The beets were mashed and a ton of garlic was layered into the mix and placed on top of crispy bread and shaved with what I believe was ricotta salada but I could be wrong – some kind of cheese. It was so good. It wasn’t as sweet as beets tend to be but had a very mild earthiness with the spice of the raw garlic.
I love bottarga so I couldn’t resist the carte de musica:
It’s basically really really thin flatbread that has been generously layered with that dried fish roe that is so prized and then a generous smattering of butter. Here’s a shot of the innards (see the yellow-ish fish roe – looks like stained glass):
So what did this taste like? Honestly in many ways it tasted like movie theater popcorn with alot of butter. The butter is what you taste first and then you get the sticky salty bites of the fish roe and finally you are left with the flavors of the actual roe (slightly fishy). Yes it gets in your molars and yes you will continue to taste that roe so if you aren’t into bottarga, this might be a bit intense for you. I loved it.
We wanted to share a crudo so we got the pink snapper with Meyer lemon and Szechuan peppercorns:
You should have seen our faces when the plate arrived = literally three tiny pieces of snapper on a plate showed up. This was $16! The fish was fresh and the sauce was tasty but I would say pass on this unless you have dollars coming out of your a*s.
Here’s where our dinner got slightly annoying. As mentioned, we were seated by a window and directly in front of us was the sidewalk seats. At this point in the meal, the restaurant turns on the outside heaters and EVERYTHING is awash in a terrible florescent red. No joke. My photos are ruined. The only way I could share these photos with you were in black and white. You won’t get a great idea of what the food looks like unfortunately. Behold: the Vermont burrata with parsnip puree:
It was good. Creamy and milky with a nice crunch from the fried wontons scattered atop.
The octopus with baby potatoes:
Tender octopus and seasoned really well. This had a Spanish flair and I really enjoyed it. The potatoes lent a nice starchy bite to the plate. They give you alot of octopus I was happy to see.
At the recommendation of our server, we got his favorite thing on the menu, chorizo stuffed calamari:
Terrible photo but AMAZING dish. Holy deliciousness. The baby calamari is not just stuffed with chorizo but rice that has been infused with that wonderful cured meat. This was a flavor explosion and I couldn’t get enough! Really really delicious and a must have.
Oyster pan roast with uni butter crostini (obvi my pick):
This is basically a small cup of chowder with oysters in it. The soup was definitely made up largely of heavy cream, butter and maybe chopped chives. It was super duper rich so much so it tasted like there was cheese melted into it. It’s so decadent and I can see why our server suggested the fresh made parker house rolls to dip into the soup (this is not something I would really spoon into my mouth?). The uni butter crostini – well you couldn’t make out the uni but it sure was delicious dipped into that chowder. I managed to fish out three HUGE succulent oysters:
The Parker House rolls:
I was impressed with this meal and really enjoyed gorging on all that delicious seafood. Although the restaurant has been out awhile, the waits are still long and the place was pretty crowded. Come early to nab a seat or you can do what we did, and drink the wait away 🙂
John Dory Oyster Bar, 1196 Broadway, New York, NY