On a recent trip to NY City, I wanted some great shellfish, which I thought might be a difficult find considering the likely numerous spots with high end seafood in my area. But after a few Google searches, it became quite clear that I needed to visit The John Dory Oyster Bar, and now I understand why.
Full disclosure that when I look for restaurants, other reviews often appear in the Google search. At times, I’ll scan those reviews to see how other reviewers experienced the restaurant. The reviews I scanned were almost universally glowing, with one common point of scrutiny and frustration – The John Dory Bar doesn’t take reservations.
This is not a dealbreaker for me – never has been; although I can understand why it frustrates patrons who simply want to dine and depart without burning an hour or two of their time prior to the meal. I get it.
As you’d expect, an elegantly drafted NY Times review of The John Dory Oyster Bar offers the best description of how a “No Reservations” policy can taint an otherwise superlative experience. Click here to read the NY Times Review of The John Dory Oyster Bar.
But have no fear! They now take reservations! Just go to their website, and you can reserve by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ok, on to the review.
Because of the volume of glowing reviews, I expected The John Dory Oyster Bar to be packed on a Thursday evening, and it was. But I was alone, so I thought I might be able to grab a seat at the bar. I was wrong. It was all busy, all over the place.
But, I’m glad there wasn’t a seat at the bar because it highlighted one of the coolest and most ingenious features I have ever seen IN ANY BAR ANYWHERE – which is saying something because I have been too lots and lots and lots of bars.
At the far end of the bar, there was a small sequestered space set apart for standing patrons only ordering drinks. So genius! I don’t know why more bars don’t do this. It allows the standing folks to grab a drink while waiting, it allows the bartenders to make more money, and it helps the restaurant by calming the thundering herds of people waiting for a place to sit. Super cool and very smart.
I spent about 30 minutes at this spot while waiting for a set to open up at the bar, and it provided me with a wonderful opportunity to view the restaurant – see the staff and the patrons move and dine in this energetic and vibrant environment.
I’d like to recognize the excellence of the bartenders. I unfortunately failed to get their names but both were outstanding – speedy, friendly, helpful, great senses of humor, and most importantly – calm in the wake of what must be a stressful task managing the crush of patrons, while making drinks for the staff. They were extremely attentive, especially in attempting to secure a seat for me! I finally swooped in when two young ladies paid their tab.
I enjoyed a couple of cold beers while standing at the bar, and based on one of the bartender’s recommendations, I ordered the Gin Oyster Shooter. Now, I failed to take note of the ingredients – bad reviewer – but it’s probably because it was so delicious I just lost myself in its enjoyment. The flavors were light, refreshing and unique – the gin is a great twist. Highly recommend this deliciousness.
After perusing the menu, there was really no choice to be made other than the Seafood Tower. I mean, what are we talking about? This is the whole reason for coming!
The Seafood Tower was all-time. Wow. Check out these pictures:
Everything was incredibly fresh, succulent, and flavorful – Lobster, King Crab, Snail, Oysters, and Littleneck Clams. Those Littleneck Clams may have been the best I’ve ever had. I also loved the variety of the sauces.
When I finished taking down all of this amazing seafood, one of the bartenders presented me with a lovely warm wet towel to wipe my hands and face. So freaking great.
The last thing I want to mention is that there was an all-world server – a lovely young lady who would often swoop in and clear my plates, glasses, etc. as part of the staff’s teamwork. I was so impressed with her that I asked her name, and I may spell it wrong – Dani, but I need to mention her. She’s the type of staff member that helps to make a place like this restaurant so excellent – selflessness and committed to teamwork. She is gold and should be acknowledged for her excellence!
In all, a most sublime experience, especially in light of the high expectations created by other reviewers. I highly recommend visiting The John Dory Oyster Bar, and I most certainly recommend reservations . . .
The John Dory Oyster Bar – 1196 Broadway at 29th Street – New York, NY 10001
Instagram for Chef April Bloomfield: @aprilbloomfield
Instagram for The John Dory: @thejohndory