L&W Oyster Co.
It is not just another clam bake. I know NYC has a surplus of seaside shacks at the moment (and as far as I’m concerned, one can’t be surrounded by too many) but this guy popped up on the scene courtesy of the people from Almond (plus a chef from Per Se) and luckily they had a plan. A good one. L&W Oyster Co. is all that and more.
First of all, it’s polished, snappy and comfortable to be in. Vintage tongue-in-cheek memorabilia abounds, the lighting is cooly distinctive and the bartenders are excellent. They’ve brought back magnetic poetry tiles at each booth so you can leave a message for future diners or create what’s now an old-fashioned “text” message for your companions. There’s a bit of a twist on a few standards – a little Indian seasoning here and a lot of fun everywhere else. C’mon…house made goldfish cheddar crackers! And the oysters are sublime.
What becomes an oyster most?
It’s warm and completely inviting. The booth looks small but turns out to be perfect for four. You have your tiles. You have your goodies. You’re ready.
So…the draw. With celery granita, a lovely migonette and house made horseradish cocktail sauce. Zing. Plus simple little shell plates. Nice touches. There’s an eight oyster list in rotation including east and west coast selections. We had Widow’s Hole, always a delight, intensely beautiful Totten Bays and their cohorts the lovely Fanny Bays, fabulous Beau Soleils and my oyster heart – Kumamotos. I already said sublime I think but it bears repeating here. Sublime.
But wait there’s more! Juicy, well seasoned baked clams on a bed of coarse rock salt. No tired bread crumbs here. Apples, mustard greens and a tabasco hollandaise infused with the exquisite liquor of the clam instead.
Brussels Sprouts Salad was divine. Done 2 ways, shredded and in pieces with a kind of Caesar dressing. They have the same at Almond and it’s absolutely worth the double offering.
Scallop Hash. You can’t legally smoke it here yet but you can certainly enjoy an above the law seafood version. And it’s pretty enjoyable. Red Bliss potatoes with tarragon kissed Peconic Bay scallops, some more house-made splendor – this time bacon, red onions and the denouement is the dash and squiggle of an Oyster Rockefeller puree.
A brief foray into Spain is worth the fare. Nicely grilled Octopus a la Plancha with pickled chili peppers, papas bravas and saffron.
And though it might sound ubiquitous, the pasta with shrimp was not. It’s layered, light and lovely. Playfully aromatic with roasted tiger prawns, cavetelli, a surprise splash of gigante beans, broccoli rabe and a handful of rosemary in a fresh tomato sauce.
Fritto Misto, which were two of the first words I learned in Italian years ago had a reunion with me stateside. Whitebait, cauliflower, sunchokes. Lightly fried, excellent snap.
Vibrant scene including the very in vogue hipster plaid for the waitstaff help set a fun tone along with the whimsical decor (check out their Dr Seuss designed wallpaper by the restrooms). At lunchtime it’s all casual and breezy but it gets turned up a notch for evenings with glowy lighting and more sophisticated menu choices.
You can’t skip dessert. And the desserts!
Coconut Panna Cotta with carmelized pineapple, kaffir lime and thai basil. Uh HUH.
I’m a classic freak. Chocolate brownie, peanut nougatine, rocky road ice cream.
I really really liked that.
It feels like Brooklyn. It feels like Gloucester. It’s very Manhattan. It’s urban, urbane and begs for a return. This kinda says it all…
L & W Oyster Co.
254 Fifth Avenue at 28th Street
The previous diners left us a note…