Between the great company, the high energy ambiance, and the delicious oyster focused dishes, the latest New York Oyster Lovers Meet Up dinner at DBGB Kitchen and Bar was nothing short of spectacular. A restaurant on a list of many to be called upon, there was no better way to finally experience it. Our table of twelve bivalve aficionados all left satisfied and with grins as big as an open Belon oyster, which happened to be featured on a menu created solely for our group.
Seated at a long table, in the center of a restaurant enclosed by an L-shape open kitchen, it was as cozy as a dining space of that size can be. Besides the few square tables in the center, there are various sized booths to dine at, from smaller ones along side the kitchen to the much larger secluded nooks at the other end. All above which are randomly placed copper pieces of kitchen equipment, highlighted by distinct chefs. There are various grocery items stacked pantry style throughout, giving way for a casual home-style dining. And to top if off, the menu not only includes an array of scrumptious dishes we saw brought out throughout the evening, but a beer list that stretches fare and beyond.
But forget the decor, we were there for the four course oyster-centered tasting menu created by the very talented Executive Chef Jim Leiken. To kick start this dinner, we began with a decadent dish of Shigoku Oysters in a Lemongrass Veloute and Hackleback Caviar. Chef Leiken introduced this dish as one he would often cook when working at Daniel, switching between Sea Urchin and Caviar as the center piece. We came on a good night, for the combination of sweet Shigokus, salty caviar and tangy lemongrass was quite the palate pleaser.
For the next course, the very rare, and difficult to come by, Belon Oyster from Harpswell, Maine, was presented in its shell, topped off with a sauce of black beans and ramps. This dish the chef recalled from his childhood when him and his family would frequent Chinatown, load up on oysters and eat them in just the same style. Although this particular oyster is a “hot commodity” in the oyster world, it tends to be extreme on the metallic side, with strong tastes of zinc. However, the sweetness of the black beans and tart ramps subdued the metallic taste, enhancing the otherwise bold flavors of the oyster.
For our third dish, and what was a favorite of the evening, the Nini-Moto Oyster from Charleston, Rhode Island was tucked away in a puff pastry along with delicate sweetbreads, spring peas and crayfish in sauce Americaine, all of which was highlighted by the tender chicken oysters on top. It was a dish so full of flavor, that each component could stand on its own. But when combined together, it was a fork full of gastronomical sparkle.
For the grand finale, to what was already an impeccable dinner, the chef brought out an entire Pekin Duck, stuffed with Pacific Oysters and roasted whole. It was then disassembled, with the legs going in for further braising, and plated individually with several pieces of breast and local asparagus. Although the oyster did not shine in this particular dish, it was still distinguishable among the other ingredients, making for a dish so opulent in presentation and flavor, it should be a staple on their regular menu.
It was a great evening spent catching up with friends and meeting some new faces, while sharing a meal highlighted by our shared favorite ingredient. Looking forward to what the summer season has to shuck.
DBGB Kitchen and Bar
New York, NY 10003
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