The Neighborhood Spot I Want: Upstate Craft Beer and Oyster Bar
In the three years that I have lived in Chelsea, I still haven’t found my neighborhood spot. I blame it partly on my ADD when it comes to restaurants and partly on the fact that there really isn’t a place near me that quite fits the bill. Sure, Westville and Co. come so close but the sheer size of both places as well as the constant lines make them that much less cozy and personal.
So imagine my excitement when I found this little spot in East Village called Upstate Craft Beer and Oyster Bar. No surprises here – the title of this entry already kind of gave it away – but the little oyster bar on a busy stretch of 1st Ave had every element of what I was looking for in a neighborhood spot. I am definitely late to the game because Upstate has been open for quite some time already. The tiny bar is right around the corner from India row and rustic space only has enough tables for a handful. When I arrived to meet up with LC for dinner early on Sunday night, most of them were already taken. The bar in the back was first come first serve so I grabbed a beer from the warm and friendly bartender while I waited for LC.
By the time LC arrived, a high top for two opened up so I left my spot at the bar (a little unwillingly to be honest).
First order of business before we even get to the real menu was to place our orders for oysters. Upstate offers a daily oyster happy hour from 5-7PM for 6 oysters and a craft beer for $12 dollars. We had just 10 minutes to take advantage of the happy hour so decisions were made quickly. For me, 3 brinier East coast oysters and 3 sweeter West coast oysters while LC stuck with the West coasters.
Neither of us were that hungry so we decided to share two appetizers and an entree. The first appetizer that caught our eyes was the ceviche. For that day, it was slices of jumbo Long Island fluke with roasted red pepper couli, olives and tomatoes. Refreshing and mildly sweet, this was perfect for the warm day.
Our second appetizer had to be, of course, the grilled squid salad with chili and garlic on a bed of kale. Simply prepared, the squid pieces were tender and every bite had just the right amount of char. The kale on the bottom was nice and hearty and held up nicely against the warm squid.
Light appetizers meant that we could splurge a little on a heartier entree. I had heard all about Upstate’s clams with fettuccine so I knew immediately what we had to get to wrap up the meal. The al dente noodles were covered buttery bread crumbs, sweet onion slices and a light covering of parmesan cheese. The clams that circled the noodles were plump and sweet and steamed to just the right tenderness. The portion was rather large and the pasta was rich, making me glad that we decided to share it instead of ordering it for one.
There was no dessert menu at Upstate and instead, the waitress brought over a few slivers of the Wife’s Whiskey pound cake. Not overly sweet but intensely buttery with a fine crumb, this was exactly what we wanted to finish the meal.
The friendly service and the adorable atmosphere coupled with delicious menu made me wish just a tiny bit for the first time ever that I lived in East Village. If I did, Upstate would definitely be a place that I would find myself at on a Friday night after work for dinner, on a Saturday afternoon for a quick drink and oysters or any other day of the week when I crave some fresh and beautifully cooked seafood at a very reasonable price. Now, how do I convince the husband and wife team to bring Upstate to Chelsea?
Upstate Craft Beer and Oyster Bar | 95 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003 | http://upstatenyc.com/