Book Review: Oysters for the Ages

Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant Cookbook
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant CookbookHelen Rosner

New York has long maintained a special relationship with the oyster, the ingredient dearest to its collective heart. For that reason, the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal occupies a special place. It is a living link to glory days when ordinary New Yorkers devoured oysters by the bushel at market stands and oyster cellars, and the well-to-do made their way to palatial restaurants for heaping seafood platters, oysters Rockefeller, and oyster pie. Even today, office workers, tourists, and commuters sit down together at the low-slung counters and feast on 30 or more varieties of fresh-shucked oysters or the restaurant's signature oyster roast—plump blue points adrift on a briny, paprika-flecked sea—and silky oyster stew. Both recipes are included in the wonderful Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant Cookbook (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35), along with about a hundred others that range from those storied classics to dishes like pasta e fagioli, made with sea scallops and basil oil, of more recent vintage. The book was written by the restaurant's executive chef Sandy Ingber with Roy Finamore and published last year to mark the Oyster Bar's hundredth year. There's no reason at all why it shouldn't carry on for another hundred.