Written by Hulda Lawrence
On our recent visit, manager Paul Barbey greeted us and proudly reported that the present locale had once been an old building which held an Army-Navy store in years past as well as a synagogue on an upper floor. Now it's completely redone and modernized, although Hurley's no longer is neighbor of the old TV and radio studios where Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, David Letterman and lots of stars hung out. Today the bar is on a street occupied by several theatres and a number of restaurants.
Although we anticipated "bar specials" at Hurley's we were delighted to receive an interesting menu with a goodly number of choices. We sipped our drinks and noted the number of been on draught.
We were ensconced at a table in a niche so that we could watch all the comings and goings of diners. The niche was constructed so that we had plenty of room and privacy. We began with tastes of three appetizers: an order of Blackened Shrimp with mango chutney; Grilled Portobello Mushroom with roasted red pepper, mozzarella on mixed greens done with balsamic vinegar; and Crunchy Tuna, Apple and Frisse Salad. Each was appealing and different. Other appetizers include French Onion Soup; Lobster Bisque with crabmeat; Beef or Chicken Satay; Classic Spinach Salad; Caesar Salad; Mixed Baby Greens with grape tomatoes, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette; Chopped Iceberg Lettuce; Tomato and Onion Salad; Baked Clams; Shrimp Cocktail; Buffalo Wings; Potato Skins; Chicken Fingers; Mozzarella Sticks and Vegetable Dumplings. Prices are $5 for soup to $12.
We nibbled and drank and relaxed and then shared a grilled 10-ounce Filet Mignon with Onion Rings and Shitake demi-glaze. It was deliciously tender and arrived very rare as we had ordered. Other entrees include Chicken Berry Hill, Bratwurst, BBQ Tenderloins of Port, Crisp Roasted Long Island Duckling, Grilled Swordfish, Shrimp Scampi, Yellowtail Tuna, Sea Scallops, Chopped Steak, Veal Moran with ham and fontina cheese. These entrees are served upstairs at Hurley's for $14 to $30 for the steak.
Our efficient server, C.J. from Westchester, suggested we sample some desserts. We were glad we did. The Midnight Chocolate Mousse Cake, Key Lime Pie and New York Cheesecake with strawberry sauce were superior.
There is a $28 pre-theatre special with a choice of Onion Soup or Lobster Bisque, Caesar Salad or Baked Stuffed Clams. Entrees are Chicken Berry Hill with asparagus, mushrooms and champagne sauce; Charcoal Grilled Salmon Fillet; Grilled Swordfish; Veal Moran; and Long Island Duckling. Desserts are chocolate or vanilla ice cream, Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie or that great chocolate cake. Coffee or tea are included.
We were at Hurley's on Friday, and the Friday Specials were New England Clam Chowder at $5; Fettuccini with Salmon, Veggies and Olive Oil at $11; California Chicken Salad at $12 and Turkey Wrap at $12. This saloon fare is served in the bar.
We had a wonderful lunch and shall return. There is a private room upstairs that seats 50 for a sit-down dinner and 100 more for cocktails. The kitchen is open until 11:30 p.m. and the bar is open until 2:30 or 3 a.m.
One of the best known restaurants in Manhattan is the Grand Central Oyster Bar, located at Grand Central Terminal on East 42nd Street (212) 490-6650. Entering from 42nd Street, diners descend an easy ramp to a lower level where a door leads into the restaurant. This famous restaurant opened its doors in 1913 and after rehabing after a fire it was carefully restored to its former splendor with its cavernous architecture and sweeping tiled ceilings. It seats 500 in various locales and it is a noisy exciting place.
We were greeted by Michael Garvey, the general manager, and presented with the huge menu which lists all the seafood dishes as well as the wine and beers from all over the world. With this amazing display of seafood, it is surprising that each day something new is added. The whole menu does not change, but there are always some daily additions.
Even though there is no "R" in July we decided to begin with a platter of oysters (since the advent of refrigeration, the "R" admonition has disappeared). When our imposing two-tiered platter arrived we were informed by the knowledgeable waiter that each had a name. He proceeded to name each variety and here they are: Caraquet from New Brunswick; Chedabuco from Nova Scotia; Fisher's Island, New York; Kumamoto from Washington State; Moonstone from Rhode Island; Quilcene from Washington State and Totten Virginia from Washington State. We were amazed at the difference in taste and appearance. These oysters are priced from $1.85 to $2.45 each. A platter of eight is $16.95.
After out introduction to the many varieties of oysters on the half shell, we enjoyed a plate of tender fried oysters with tartar sauce. We tasted some nicely sautéed soft shell crabs which were flavorful and were accompanied by steamed vegetables. Our main dishes were fish, and both choices were excellent: Wild Copper River Broiled Salmon and Broiled Red Snapper Filer. The salmon was cooked on the rare side and was marvelous. The snapper also was very good and we ate every bit!
With our exceptional fish we drank Merlot, Westerly 2001, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County, California; and Landmark Chateau Woltner 2000 Napa Valley. There is a tremendous wine list from all over the world and beers on draught from Brooklyn, Belgium and Ireland, as well as Long Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and California. There also are 16 bottled beers from all over the world.
After all the seafood, could we enjoy desserts? Well, the Red Papaya Crème Brulee spectacular and the Florida Key Lime Pie was delicious. Of course there is ice cream, New York Cheesecake and Chocolate Cake with specials each day.
Among the appetizers are such delights as Dutch Herring Salad, Fried Ipswich Clams, Steamed Mussels, Fried Cajun Popcorn Shrimp, Caviar Sandwich Whitefish Roe, Dungeness Crabmeat Cocktail, Poach Oysters, Smoked fish and Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce. There are clam chowders and all kind of stews and pan roasts. On Wednesday only there are Maryland Crab Cakes.
Lister under "Today's Catch" are such fish as Arctic Char Filet, broiled; Catfish Cajun Filet, Grilled; Dove Sole, meuniere; Monkfish Tournedos, béarnaise; Scallops; Grouper Cajun, grilled; Pompano; Striped Bass Filet, broiled; Tuna; Bigeye Steak, grilled and Old-Fashioned Fish 'n Chips. Prices are $17.95 to $28.95.
A word for the good rolls and breads must be presented. Especially tasty is the New York Flat Bread; it is so good that patrons can purchase it to take home.
In addition to being the General Manager of this huge establishment, Michael Garvey is the author of a book Running a Restaurant for Dummies, which he has written along with Heather and Andrew Dinsmore.
Not only is the Grand Central Oyster Bar divided so you can belly up to the bar and watch the experienced shuckers prepare your seafood, but parties can be accommodated. They have had cocktail parties for 1000 and sit down dinners for 400.
Hours: Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m
Saturday: Noon to 9:30 p.m. Close Sundays
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.