Thursday, July 30, 2009

42nd Street Oyster Bar - 7/30/2009

One of the first restaurants I tried when I visited the Triangle area over a year ago was the 42nd Street Oyster Bar on Jones Street in Raleigh. My mom heard about it somewhere and I've since grown to adore this restaurant. Before we even get to the food, let me describe the restaurant itself. There are three seating options: 1) a normal table, 2) a table at the full bar, or 3) at the oyster bar. If you want freshly steamed oysters, shrimp or mussels, you have to sit at the bar. Normally this would mean parties greater than 3 have some trouble talking since they're sitting linearly, but 42nd Street has a solution: booths that butt up to the bar. There's live music at night Thursday through Saturday. The restaurant can get a little full, but it's definitely worth it.


The first item you receive, often before you place your drink order, are these delectable hush puppies. The puppies come piping hot and have a slightly oniony taste to them. The sauce on the side is actually just straight-up butter, but the extra addition of fat is the perfect complement to the fluffy/crunchy puppies. They key is not filling up on the endless baskets of these fried treats.

Steamed Oysters

As expected of an oyster house, the main attraction are the oysters. You can get them raw or, as above, steamed to varying degrees of doneness (Dad liked his medium-rare to make them slightly more solid). The oyster quality does not seem to change during non-r-containing months and none of the oysters leave you feeling cheated because they are too small. Most normal people will probably like the half-peck size, which is about 15 or so oysters. I was not familiar with the peck increment of measure, so I thought I would offer what advice I could. They also have fully steamed oysters with various toppings (including Rockefeller) and freshly prepared oyster stew. At the oyster bar, you can watch the stew prepared by a chef who cares for his creations as if they were newborn children.

Seared Tuna

My favorite dish to get is the seared ahi tuna special. The tuna is seared perfectly (mostly cold and ruby red on the inside while just barely warm on the outside) with sesame seeds and two sauces, one ginger- and the other wasabi-based. The sauces pack some great flavor but do not overwhelm tasting the delicate tuna. On the side, I picked rice, cooked with clam juice, and the cole slaw. I must mention that this slaw is the one that awakened my taste buds to eating slaw again. It is a perfect balance of creamy, sweet, vinegary, and crunchy. Another side I've had are the mashed potatoes which are some of the creamiest I've ever tasted (undoubtedly because they use cream and butter).

For those who prefer their seafood fully cooked, they have many other options including fried (with some very good calamari) and steamed. One special that I want to try next time I go is the cioppino, seafood cooked in a tomato sauce. 42nd Street clearly draws a good crowd, but I'm amazed at how few people know about it in my area of Durham, so take the trip to the capital for a great seafood experience.

No comments: