- scene: Casual old -time charm with lots of high top tables and a good bar
- sip: Beer and rosé pair especially well with oysters
- savor: Oysters in all forms; raw, baked, fried, steamed...
- sit: Date night done right!
- spend: $$
- address: 413 East 12th Street, between First and A
- phone number: (646) 602-1300
- website: www.zadiesoysterroom.com
Zadie’s Oyster Room gives its namesake bivalves the royal treatment. The beauty of oysters lies in their simplicity; they are often eaten completely on their own, fresh out of the water, bursting with briney goodness, with only a simple mignonette sauce or a squeeze of lemon. Zadie’s honors oysters in not only their most natural form, but also by cooking them multiple ways (pickling, steaming, frying etc) with such delicate precision as to almost reinvent the oyster with each dish.
Zadie’s space is small, but big on ambition. Made up of mostly high tops and a bar area, Zadie’s is a casual in a nostalgic, non-ironic way. There are salt-water taffy and Mary Janes readily available to go with the old-time vibe, and the red neon sign outside simply says “Eat Oysters.” Zadie’s masters every preparation of oysters by keeping the flavors and combinations familiar, yet elevated by a touch of sophistication; this allows the dishes to be impressive but never complicated, satisfying but never convoluted. Pickled oysters were served with fresh and pickled veggies, and the pickling gave the oysters the same acidic kick usually provided by mignonette sauce. The dish is beautifully composed and colorful, but not fussy; I love how fresh and bright the flavors are.
The enormous baked oysters with seaweed butter, prosciutto, leeks and eggs is a rich, umami bomb treat, the forbidden combination of cheese and seafood velvety and properly salty. Steamed oysters offered a new twist on a preparation usually seen with clams; the broth was good enough to drink or soak up with some of the brown bread served with anchovy butter. The fried oysters were good not great, but my view of fried oysters will always be tainted by the perfection that is Casamentos in New Orleans, where the oysters are huge and the breading delicate.
For non-oyster eaters, there is a competent and satisfying Caesar salad, and one the best BLT’s I have ever had (also maybe the only BLT I have ever had.) There are crab cake sliders, and on the night we dined a fantastic yellowtail collar special. The name Zadie’s Oyster Room makes me think of ZZ’s Clam Bar, which is a silly silly place that makes me mad; Zadies is a charming place that makes me happy. Zadie’s is a perfect date place, not just because of the rumored aphrodisiac properties of oysters, but because there is an intimacy of slurping together, and the unstructured menu allows an air of freedom for commitment- phobes; start raw and if things are going well, work your way up to steamy….
Also: There are happy hour deals from 5pm-7pm