Friday, November 12, 2010

John Dory reborn as John Dory Oyster Bar

April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman's John Dory Oyster Bar finally opened at noon today, after several delays.  I had sadly only gotten a chance to visit its original incarnation once before it closed, but I remembered it fondly.  Especially the lovely Oyster Pan Roast, which I had intended to get often whenever I wandered into that part of town.  The Cod Milt was really good too, but I have not heard any rumblings of it making a reappearance.  But alas, I didn't end up wandering there often, which apparently was the case with most people, so the John Dory had to close its doors.  It has now been reborn it a part of town with much more foot traffic, and no longer takes reservations; I suspect this will be a winning strategy.  Hell, judging by how packed its sister The Breslin was when I went by to check out the Dory's status Monday, it could thrive just on The Breslin's overflow, not that relying on it will be necessary.

This afternoon I wandered in shortly after the announced 12pm opening time, and while they were not quite ready, still going over specials with the waitstaff, I grabbed a seat at the bar to take in the surroundings.  The light filled room is much airier than either the Breslin or the original location, being a corner spot with large windows.  At either end of the bar they have suspended fish tanks, one with specimens from the Atlantic, the other the Pacific, which makes for a fun touch.  While I was able to wander in, it had mostly filled up with only a handful of seats available around 1:30 when I left, and apparently shortly thereafter there was a wait.  I suspect the place will be mobbed tomorrow and most evenings for the foreseeable future.
I started with the "Live Maine Sea Urchin with Pomegranate and Black Pepper", which was obviously super fresh and had a really deep flavor.  The pomegranate gave it a nice refreshing touch and some texture with the seeds, and the pepper contributed the hint of spice.  I loves my uni.
And finally, after a long wait since the original closed, I got more of the Oyster Pan Roast with uni-butter crostini.  It is as delicious as I remember, with several super plump oysters lurking beneath the surface.  It is quite creamy and rich, but at the same time has a bracing acidity from the vermouth and lemon juice that keeps it from being too heavy.  A simple dish, but refined and delicious.  I've not yet tried making it, but the Times did print a recipe back when the first Dory was open. 
The menu today was less extensive than some preview menus I have seen, leaning more towards small plates.  But that was fine with me, as it let me try more things without feeling like a total glutton.  I'm not sure if this was due to it being the first day or if the lunch menu is a bit different, but I suspect the latter.  I'll have to try a dinner sometime to check out some of the other items not offered for lunch today; I hear the crab and avacado is really good, and I'm very intrigued by the Eel and Parsley Pie.
They had a braised octopus special I tried which was quite good.  Very tender and flavorful octopus with roast potatoes with aioli.
I had a little more room so I opted for the Tasmainian Sea Trout Crudo.  Nicely firm texture with a very clean flavor:
I stuck to a beer and a glass of wine, so I didn't sample Sasha Petraske's cocktail list, but I took a gander.  It leans on the lighter side to match the seafood. Of 13 drinks, there were only two with aged spirits: one rye, and one anejo rum.  Of the remaining drinks, four had prosecco, one Sauvignon Blanc and St. Germain, and the balance used unaged spirits like vodka, blanco tequila, gin, or white rum.  That's not to say they didn't have a selection of brown spirits, as there were plenty of nice bottles behind the bar if that's what you are in the mood for.


  1. Good god, (I'm not afraid of fat, but) does that NYT recipe really call for a cup of heavy cream per seving?

  2. Yup, sure does. No wonder it's so delicious. Although that recipe seems to make a much larger serving than the portion pictured they serve at lunch. Seems like the recipe portions it as a main course with 6 oysters per serving, mine had 3 (big ones). I'd say you can safely plan to serve at least 8 or 10 as a first course with the Times recipe.


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