|Docks Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill in New York City, New York took diners on a "palate-inspired tour" of New Orleans during their 2017 Spring Oyster Festival with their New Orleans' themed event featuring a plethora of unlimited raw and cooked oysters, Creole Oyster Chowder, and Seafood Gumbo, along with shrimp cocktail, and New England Clam Chowder.
Edward F. Nesta and Debra C. Argen
Docks Oyster Bar - Spring New Orleans Oyster Festival
Twice a year, Dock's Oyster Bar andSeafood Grill celebrates their namesake, the oyster, with their Fall OysterFestival (held in November) and Spring Oyster Festival (held in April). Havingattended their Fall 2016 Oyster Festival, we eagerly awaited their Spring 2017Oyster Festival!
Variety of Oysters
On Saturday, April 29, 2017, the attractive restaurant, whichopened in 1987, was filled with people passionate about oysters. For the Spring2017 Oyster Festival, colorful Mardi Gras balloons of purple, green, and golddotted the restaurant, tables had assorted Mardi Gras beads, hats, and masks sodiners could get into the New Orleans spirit, and the Hudson Hot Five featuringMartina DaSilva created the perfect ambience. There was also a photo booth withMardi Gras props where diners could pose for celebratory keepsake photos, whichadded to the festive atmosphere and Dock's anniversary of "30 Years and StillShucking." (View YouTube video of HudsonHot Five: https://youtu.be/9sAi4-AFTmk)
Wilding Bastard Oyster
Donning our masks and colorful beads,we got into the spirit of the festival, and began our day with spicy BloodyMary's made with Ravo Vodka, one ofthe sponsors of the event, to pair with an amazing assortment of east coast aswell as west coast oysters supplied by GothamSeafood, K& B Seafood, and BlueIsland Shellfish, which rotated throughout the day. Two of themany raw east coast offerings we sampled included Saddlerock oysters (Crassatrea virginica) from Northport,Long Island, New York, and Wilding Bastard (Crassatreavirginica) from Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Raw West coast offerings wesampled included our favorite Kumamoto oysters (Crassostrea sikamea), small-sized delicate oysters with lightsalinity, smooth texture, and a delightful slightly sweet finish, as well asLaguna Manuela oysters from Baja California, Mexico, oysters from Salesh Sea,British Columbia, and large Skookum oysters, (Crassostrea gigas), from Washington state, which had sweet,delicate and plump meat.
Laguna Manuela Oysters
The three-hour oyster festivalfeatured an unlimited selection of raw oyster offerings, Oysters Rockefeller,Po-Boys with coleslaw, baskets of hush puppies and fried oysters, Creole OysterChowder, New England Clam Chowder, Seafood Gumbo accompanied by cornbread,oyster crackers, and assorted breads, and heaping mounds of succulent jumboshrimp luxuriantly displayed on crushed ice.
In addition to Bloody Mary's, therewas a selection of wines from RegalWines and Palm Bay Wines, beerfrom Sam Adams, as well as local NewYork beers, Coney Island Brewery'sMermaid Pilsner and Coney IslandLager, and Montauk Brewing Company'sSummer Ale and Watermelon SessionIPA, to pair with the delectable oyster festival menu.
The day ended with an exciting oyster shucking contest, wherebyfour competitors, three kitchen staff members and one waiter, raced against theclock to shuck 12 oysters and present them neatly arranged for the judges'decision. (View YouTube video of OysterShucking Competition: https://youtu.be/vHDDno3-AT8.)
Speaking with manager Steve Olsen, we learned that the restaurant shucked over 8,000oysters for the raw bar, and another 5,000 oysters for the cooked presentationsfor the oyster festival. With over 13,000 oysters shucked during the festival, inaddition to their daily oyster presentations, you might wonder what they dowith the shells. For the past 18+ months, Docks has been participating in the Billion Oyster Project (BOP),where the discarded top shells are picked up twice-weekly at the restaurant bythe foundation.
Executive Chef Cesar Torres
Founded in 2010 by Murray Fisher, the"BOP, an initiative of the New York Harbor Foundation, is an ecosystemrestoration and education project aimed at restoring one billion live oystersto New York Harbor and engaging hundreds of thousands of school-childrenthrough restoration based STEM education programs."
Serving a plate full of Oysters Rockefeller
"Oysters were the keystonespecies and original ecosystem engineers of New York Harbor. Oyster reefs oncecovered more than 220,000 acres of the Hudson River estuary. They providedvaluable ecosystem services to the region by filtering water, providing habitatfor other marine species and attenuating wave energy. Today, oysters arefunctionally extinct in the Harbor as a result of overharvesting, dredging andpollution. The absence of oysters has impaired our estuary's ability to cleanthe water and absorb excess nitrogen; the loss of reefs has reduced protectivehabitat, destabilized the sea floor and left our shoreline vulnerable todestructive wave action. The Billion Oyster Project aims to reverse theseeffects by bringing oysters and their reef habitat back to New York Harbor.Restoring oysters and reefs will, over time, restore the local marineecosystem's natural mechanisms for maintaining itself, resulting in cleanerwater and greater biodiversity. Moreover, engaging students and the generalpublic in this work will build a culture of stewardship and a more robustunderstanding and appreciation of the Harbor for future generations."
Shrimp for everyone - YUM!
Some interesting results to dateprovided by the BOP:
Oysters Grown in New York Harbor:
Reef Area Retored:
Pounds of Shells Recycled:
Number of Restaurants Engaged:
Since 1987, Docks Oyster Bar andSeafood Grill has attracted Manhattanites and visitors alike to the attractiverestaurant located in the heart of Midtown on the corner of Third Avenue and 40thStreet, a short stroll from Grand Central. Art Deco design accentuates thelarge space which has 2 walls of windows bringing ambient light into therestaurant, large seasonal arrangements placed throughout the restaurant addgracious appeal, sconces adorn the square columns, framed vintage posters andfish prints attract the eye, and large chalkboards at the back of the upperlevel announce market prices and specials. White linen draped tables flanked byblack wood chairs with black leather seats, and waitstaff wearing white shirtsand long black and white striped aprons continue the Art Deco feel of white andblack design.
Selection of Soup - Creole Oyster Chowder, Seafood Gumbo,
New England Clam Chowder
The long rectangular bar with bar seatingon all four sides in the center of the restaurant acts as a focal point andcreates separate dining areas at tables on the main level on either side of thebar and in the back of the room, with additional seating on the upper levelincluding tables placed along the windows offering diners a view of the room aswell as views of the happenings of New York enfolding around them.
Plate of Oysters and Shrimp - WOW!
While the twice-yearly Oyster Festivalis always wonderful, dining at Docks is consistently excellent whether it be Lunch,Dinner, their Saturday Brunch, Sunday Jazz Brunch, or Happy Hour. There isalways something fun happening at Docks Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill so be sureto check their website for upcoming events and special menus at: www.DocksOysterBar.com.
See you at the Fall Oyster Festival
Docks Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill isopen for Lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 am until 4:00 pm, Dinner dailyfrom 4:00 pm until 11:00 pm, Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am until4:00 pm, and Happy Hour at the bar only Monday through Friday from 3:00 pmuntil 7:00 pm. Jazz lovers will appreciate the live Jazz on Tuesday eveningsand also during Sunday Brunch.
Every Sunday and Monday night DocksOyster Bar has a Clambake featuring one 2-pound lobster or two 1-pound lobstersserved with a choice of Field Green Salad or New England Clam Chowder, withMussels, Clams, New Potatoes and Corn on the Cobb, and Key Lime Pie or IceCream for dessert for $55.
Docks Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill
633 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
To learn more about the Billion Oyster Project please visittheir website: www.BillionOysterProject.org
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