The thing that kills me about the Oyster Bar is that it is an functional anachronism. Rows of jam packed luncheon counters, a goodly percentage of the patrons not tourists, or lovesick nostalgic New Yorkers – rather EATERS. And eaters of the weird, slobbery peasant food of yesteryear.
For those of you who feel overwhelmed and have never actually gone inside: don’t let the prices on the posted menu stickershock you away. Go in and order the chowder or the oyster stew or the oyster pan roast (which is basically the oyster stew over whitebread – it is fantastic.) That plus the free rolls is more than enough for lunch. Maybe get one or two oysters a la carte for kicks. Just pick ‘em at random – I always do. I usually go with places I’ve actually been to. Though I’ve heard that the further north up the east coast you go the “brinier” they are. Similarly, west coast oysters are supposed to be “creamier” the further up you go. Whatever – they are just a) snotty, slimy vessels for horseradish and vinegar and b) awesome forkfulls of New York history (and the only thing it is socially acceptable to eat while it is still living!)