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Manhattan More-Than-Survival Guide (#1)

by Anne on November 1st, 2007

This is where I share my deep knowledge of the ins and outs and nooks and crannies of Manhattan Isle. It’s true that Gotham is adding more chain restaurants and flashy reflective condos every day, but it still manages to retain lovely eccentricities if you know where to look. So here goes:

HOW TO EAT A CHEAP LUNCH AT THE GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR: Sit at one of the horseshoe-shaped Formica counters. Ask the harried-yet-kindly waitress for the “sandwich menu”. They will not offer you the “sandwich menu” unless you ask for it; they will hand you the giant-sized regular menu. So make this insider’s request and take pride in the fact that you are not a tourist. It is like saying “swordfish” and getting into a speakeasy. (By the way, swordfish runs $28.95.) Order the Oyster Po Boy, which only costs $8.25. (The bouillabaisse sandwich and fried fish sandwiches are even cheaper.) It is delicious and filling and possibly aphrodisiacal. If you are really broke, don’t order anything else and you can get out of there for ten bucks including a decent-but-not-great tip. I usually have an ice tea and that makes it $13 total. You will get a biscuit, some flatbread, and butter as a bonus. If you want to plan for the future, take advantage of the fact that they always toss many tiny bags of crackers on the counter for soup patrons, so you can grab some discretely on the way out and you’ll probably get away with it. Ladies: be sure to check out the powder room where there’s a couch that’s shaped like a pair of gigantic red lips. Very mod!

And while you’re in the neighborhood…

BEST PLACE TO BUY SHAMROCK STUFF IN AN OFFICE BUILDING LOBBY: If you have a hankering for Irish-themed gifties, exit Grand Central on the 42nd Street side, and pop over to visit CELTIC CROSSROADS in the Lincoln Building lobby at 60 East 42nd Street. This is also a good lobby to know about if you are one of those Luddites without a cel phone because they have a handy bank of pay phones for your use, as well as convenient Fed Ex and DHL self-serve drop boxes. And be sure to admire the Abraham Lincoln statue, cast from Daniel Chester French’s original model for the Lincoln Memorial. This building also houses Monohan Custom Tailors, which makes suits for such hard-to-fit celebs such as the towering Manute Bol.

NEXT TIME: Some particularly nice places to go to the bathroom on the Upper East Side!

One Comment
  1. et alia permalink

    I think the various stews and pan roasts at the oyster bar are good values, although a bit more expensive than the sandwiches. Alas, the lobster and combo stew/pan roasts are right up there in the Oyster Bar entree price range and (so a friend who ordered one told me) not as good as the scallop or oyster ones.

    I moved to the Boston area in fall ’06 and one of the frustrations of living here is the lack of a seafood restaurant that could hold a candle to the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Legal Seafood, a wretched chain, charges prices in the same range as the Oyster Bar for seafood that doesn’t even come close.

    Can we look forward to a parallel series on the pleasures of Brooklyn?

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