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Tasting Menu Fun at Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar

October 18, 2011

Tasting menus are fun.  There are so many in New York, from ones with tricky reservation system to ones with a two Michelin stars in a casual chef’s kitchen.  They are especially fun when you are kept in the dark about the dinner to come and when reservations don’t require months of planning ahead or countless voicemails.  And Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar is just one such restaurant flying under the radar on 2nd Avenue in East Village.

At Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, it’s kind of mandated to start the meal with some oysters and wine.

A little bit of East, briny and crisp, and a little bit of West, plump and creamy.  I love the taste of oysters with just a hit of lemon juice and once in a while, a little splash of mignonette.

As soon as the oysters disappear, the tasting starts with two little hot and creamy arancini, served on a bed of arborio rice – not to be eaten of course!

Oysters appear again and this time as a hot dish.  I have to really dig for the little suckers this time, buried underneath a nest of home fries sticks and dotted with crisp pancetta pieces.

Next is a spin on the typical lox and bagels which I loved.  The arctic char tartar is sprinkled with salty fried capers and dotted with herb cream cheese.  To top it all off are broken pieces of thin bagel chips.  Even though totally unnecessary, I build a little tiny one biter with all the components anyways.

Following the seafood theme, a “clam chowder” shows up.  This time, it is dressed up like a fondue served with a potato chip.  While the clams are fresh and tender, they do not quite compliment the thick “chowder” which needed more than just one thin potato chip to gobble up.

The corn and saffron risotto might look like a one note dish, but it surprises me with the texture as well as flavor.  I love digging around for a fresh pop of the corn kernels amidst the earthy risotto.

The last savory dish of the night is surprisingly not seafood but a nice and medium rare Wagyu beef.  To be honest, at this point of the meal, I am just a little too full to completely appreciate this dish which is a shame because it is quite delicious.

And onward we go towards the sweeter part of dinner.  What a better way to ring in fall with an apple pie?  And this is no ordinary apple pie either.  First of all, the crust is laced with bites of cheddar and is layered on the bottom.  The apples are balled and sauteed gently to still retain a nice bite and the ice cream melted nicely from the heat.

Finally, one last sweet send-off from the kitchen.  While you can’t really tell, the espresso ice cream is supported by a bed of espresso and vanilla cookie crumbs.  One perfect spoonful has a little bit of both for a crunchy and creamy bite.

So there is it – the 6 course tasting menu at Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar.  The atmosphere at this little East Village shop is relaxed and you feel comfortable just lingering without someone breathing down your back to vacate the seat.  On top of that and a delicious meal, part of the fun is watching the chef prepare at the bar and trying to guess if that next plate is meant for you or the next lucky guy.   Here is a shot taken while we waited for our dessert.

Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar | 101 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003 |

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