Posts Tagged ‘Oyster Bar’

Service of Favorite Foods No Longer Available

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Oyster Bar. Photo:

Charles Passy wrote about some of the taste sensations he misses because businesses that sold them have closed or, as was the case with the Oyster Bar and its caviar sandwich, a restaurant has deep sixed an item from its menu. Good news for the sandwich fans: the Grand Central Terminal favorite has reinstated its sandwich, Passy reported in The Wall Street Journal.

According to Passy, “The menu item, a fixture for more than 15 years, had never been a huge seller, as a typical day saw up to 10 orders. But those who liked it really seemed to like it, Mr. Ingber said.” Sandy Ingber is executive chef.


Passy reported that one caviar sandwich fan, Oli Coleman, wrote about it in The New Yorker observing “It went well with a severe martini.” It’s back on the menu as Ingber found a source for reasonably priced caviar. It was dropped to begin with because the price of bowfin caviar would have catapulted the price of the sandwich three fold.


I reminisce about a rye bread with black pepper chunks on its crust made by a bakery in Bayonne, N.J; the lightest, tastiest mozzarella I chose by chance as an appetizer in an unremarkable looking restaurant in Venice years ago and the fruit tarts and birthday cakes at Dumas, a NYC bakery that has been closed for decades. [I noticed in Google that a Patisserie Didier Dumas is in Nyack, N.Y. The name Dumas in France is the equivalent of Smith or Jones here, and checking the website and seeing nothing that resembles the sweets I remember; nevertheless I should one day check out this place.]

I’m not a fan of sauerkraut—too sour–but once tasted a wonderful plate of it in Paris at a restaurant celebrating the food of Alsace. There was that elusive mulligatawny soup at the Wabeshabelli Hotel I had in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was so long ago that I can’t describe the taste but I’ve never again sipped a mulligatawny soup that pleased me as much.

Sometimes my husband Homer matches the sublime taste of a no-frills plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce that I’ve enjoyed throughout Italy.

What are some of the dishes you remember that are no longer to be had? Have you encouraged a restaurant, bakery or supermarket to reinstate an item you loved and did you change their mind?



Service of a Happy Surprise When a Stranger Takes a Minute to Help

Monday, November 27th, 2017

There’s plenty to gripe about but I want to write about two positive things because you don’t want to hear about my attempt to get to Brooklyn by subway on a recent weekend. Embarrassing how nonexistent were communications that day between the track repair, motorman and station staff for a city the size of NY. We’ve never lived in such a well-connected world and I’ve rarely seen an example of such incompetence as happened that Saturday. Even the relatively new electronic messaging machines were out of order in all stations, bad timing or bad planning? There are NYC neighborhoods, such as Red Hook Brooklyn, where people lose their jobs because city transport consistently prevents them from arriving on time. A disgrace.


This is why I especially appreciated what happened on a Metro-North train recently. The doors had closed at our upstate N.Y. station and the train was about to move south when over the loudspeaker the conductor said loud and clear, “We’ve got a runner!” That could have meant lots of things [had someone robbed a passenger and was the person running away? I watch too many “Blue Bloods” re-runs.] But in this case he’d observed a passenger racing from the parking area towards the steps to the train platform. Had he missed this one, the runner would have had two hours to wait for the next train. I trust everyone else appreciated, as I did, the one minute wait so he could travel with us.


In another instance, I was about to leave for the station to meet my husband when over the office loudspeaker we were told that all elevators were stopped until the fire department checked out a smoke condition on the roof. This meant that I was probably going to be late arriving at the gate for our train at Grand Central Terminal because I couldn’t drag my suitcase down 11 flights of stairs.

“Big deal,” say you, because all the people you know carry a mobile phone. Not my husband. I knew he was at the Oyster Bar and I called there. I described him and his suitcase and the approximate location I knew he’d be seated to the woman who picked up the phone and she found him and gave him the message. Wow.

We’re all in such a rush or so involved in our own world we often don’t stop to do something meaningful for a stranger. Do you have any good examples of strangers helping others?


Service of Checking the Bill

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

restaurant tips

According to, gratuities of as much as 20 percent are added to restaurant and pub bills in the US these days, especially in high-tourist areas. They mentioned the Grand Canyon. The website advises travelers to check the bill before adding a tip.

I noticed an addition to my restaurant check at the Oyster Bar recently. It related to the tip but wasn’t a charge. The check included all the usual information as well as three potential tip amounts, calculated for three percentages of the total [before tax]. What joy! It took me a second to round off the percentage I wanted and I didn’t need to stop the conversation.

oyster barI asked the waiter about the guide. He said it was fairly new, mentioned that they couldn’t print it on bills before because of the law. [In brief research I couldn’t find anything about such a law or regulation.] He and his colleagues were thrilled as previously so many left without adding a cent. The Oyster Bar, located in Grand Central Station and considered a landmark, sees thousands of tourists who come from countries where service is included, so this wasn’t a surprise. [My husband also reminded me of several wealthy and cheap friends who consistently stiffed restaurant staff.]

restaurant tip 2As the handy calculation was news to me, I asked some friends who eat out often whether they’d noticed these calculations. Here’s what they wrote:

Nancie Steinberg: Yes, very common now but not everywhere.

David Reich: I’ve seen friends use it, but to me — and I’m no brainiac in math — it’s easier to just double the tax and add a little more.

Andy Gerber: I don’t know what law the waiter is talking about, but I have seen those guides on checks now and then.  Mostly, I think they’re innocuous.  I confess I do feel a little offended by the arm-twisting, but it doesn’t really bother me because I’m free to ignore it and I can put up with it if it discourages some people who would otherwise stiff without a good reason. I wonder whether they base the percentages on the net check (proper) or the total including the tax (overreaching)?

Do you find such guides helpful or offensive? Have you noticed them? Do you always study your bill or do you hand the waiter a credit card or slap down a few bills without looking?

Study restaurant bill

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