Battle of the Oyster Pan Roast: The John Dory Oyster Bar vs. The Grand Central Oyster Bar

Lauren Shockey
The John Dory Oyster Bar's Pan Roast

Ah, the oyster pan roast, a timeless dish of decadence in which oysters swim in a pool of cream sauce. Equal parts deliciousness and heart attack in a bowl. April Bloomfield's version of the dish has been reprised at the John Dory 2.0 (having been introduced at the first iteration of the restaurant) and is considered one of the restaurant's signature dishes. The Grand Central Oyster Bar, meanwhile, might be best known for its raw plates of the briny bivalves, but the pan roast is high up on the list of its all-time classics. New York food scribe Adam Platt even considers it one of the greatest dishes in the city ever. So we trekked to the train station and to the trendy Ace Hotel for this week's Battle of the Oyster Pan Roast, old-school versus new-school.

The John Dory Oyster Bar's Pan Roast

We popped into the the John Dory for lunch to sample the $15 oyster pan roast (pictured above), which is served with a large crostini slathered with uni butter. Upon first glance the dish seemed rather small, about the size of a very large teacup. Four plump oysters (either Ram Island, Mystic, or Naked Cowboy, depending on the day) luxuriated in the cream-heavy broth, which was garnished with a light sprinkling of herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, and the tiniest touch of paprika. Uni butter, made by pureeing sweet butter and sea urchins, was spread across a large, crunchy piece of toast. Yes, it is a small portion, but make no mistake: This dish represents culinary hedonism. We would have preferred a bit more briny flavor in the broth itself to counterbalance the mouth-coating richness, but dunking in the crostini solved that issue. We were coerced encouraged by our waiter to order the $4 Parker House rolls to sop up the sauce, and those warm, yeasty rolls were quite tasty. But then again, shouldn't $4 bread be tasty?

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