Thursday, December 24, 2015

Where we go for the 'Feast of The Seven Fishes' by Philip S. Kampe

                                         Grand Central Oyster Bar (New York City)

Even though we just returned from a fabulous vacation in the Azores, where fish is the king, my heart beckons for our twice yearly holiday fix at the historic Grand Central Oyster Bar. Executive Chef Sandy Imgber always tantalizes us with his spot on dishes, which pair nicely with his extensive wine list.

This year was no different, we were seated at 11:30am, opening time for The Feast of Seven Fishes. We always try to be the first seated for this yearly feast. Knowing what we plan to order, it was obvious to make a good wine selection-or maybe two, before ordering the food.

We started with a 2011 Auvigue 'Solutre' Pouilly Fusse from Burgundy ($68). The minerality in this Chardonnay is perfect for seafood, as it is always one of my favorite pairings.

Now, comes the hard part.
What to order for the feast?

The menu for Christmas Eve was enticing. Pasta e Fagiole with Shrimp and Basil Oil ($7.25); Italian Seafood Salad with Pulpo, Scungelli, Calamari & Shrimp ($28.95); Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Puttnesca Sauce over Spaghettini ($29.95); Maine Lobster Thermidor over Rice Pilaf ($31.95) and Salt Cod Potato Crusted and Grilled Norwegian Salmon Filet with Spicy Amalet Tomato Sauce and Milanese Rice ($29.95).

Besides Sea Urchin (Rizzi) Gelato ($6.75) for dessert, the list looked intimidating: Espresso Sambuca Creme Brulee; Almond Chestnut-Praline Chocolate Buche de Noel; Panettone and Caramelized Apple Charlotte with Crystalized Ginger Creme Anglaise and Florida Key Lime Pie, just to mention a few.


                                       My favorite seat at the Grand Central Oyster Bar

As you can well see, the choices were varied, but, without hesitation, my wife, Maria, ordered a cup of Pasta Fagiole with Rock Shrimp and the Maine Lobster Thermidor. That made my choice easy: Italian Seafood Salad with Pulpo, Scungelli, Calamari & Shrimp plus an order of Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Puttanesca Sauce over Spaghettini. (I asked for that dish to be hotly spiced).

We devoured the dishes, finished the bottle of white Burgundy and ordered a glass each of 2013 Otto's Constant Dream Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($10) and 2012 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio ($14).

Maria had a Hot Fudge Sundae for dessert, while I had a slice of New York Cheesecake. Add a glass of Barbadillo Amontillado 'Principe' to the meal and you have a perfect 'Feast of the Seven Fishes' celebration.

The Grand Central Oyster Bar last seating is at 10pm tonight. I think its the absolute best place to eat for Christmas Eve. Check out their menu at or call for reservations at 212-490-6650.

As an added incentive, GCOB, hosts an amazing New Year's Eve a la carte menu that features Surf & Turf, Maine Lobster Newburg and Alaskan Red King Crabmeat over Spinach Salad.

Pastry Chef Januz Noka has a few sweet surprises for the evening, including Jack Daniels Gelato with Spiced Nuts.

Philip S. Kampe

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