802 Ninth Avenue, NYC
$1 oysters are always a good deal, especially when they’re decent oysters. At Pier 9 in Hell’s Kitchen I found just that. Although they offered both East and West coast oysters on their regular menu, the special pricing only covers “chef’s choice”; the night I went, the chef chose East coast only. The ones on my platter were plump, juicy, sweet, and a bit briny.
The oysters came with grated horseradish, cocktail sauce, and a pseudo-mignonette. I liked the cocktail sauce the best, followed by the horseradish. I didn’t care for the vinegar condiment (above, left) and it didn’t seem to have the traditional mix of shallots, black pepper, and vinegar. Instead it was vinegar with pieces of diced pickle floating throughout.
I tried two side dishes from the happy hour menu as well. The first was the lobster mac-n-cheese. The presentation was unexpected (and very pretty), but the flavor was only okay. Eight small rolls of thin pasta filled with thick bechamel sauce, and surrounded by more of the sauce, and then topped with tiny pieces of lobster. I would have liked more lobster. At the very least, more “mac” would have made the ratio of pasta to cheese sauce better balanced.
The crab and shiitake arancini were better. A breaded, fried shell protected a warm risotto interior. The crab flavor didn’t stand out, but it was a nice bite, and the accompanying spicy tartar sauce was a good pairing.
The New England Clam Chowder (unfortunately not pictured) that I sampled as an appetizer was excellent. It was creamy and rich and filled with seafood, including large clams in their shell. There were also big, crunchy pieces of buttered toast and chunks of smoky bacon throughout. The portion they gave was enough for two people to share as an appetizer, or for one person to have as a light meal, and it was only $5. I will be going back for that chowder!