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The John Dory Oyster Bar

Pia Mileaf-Patel

$50 a person

            I get that it’s not exactly seafood season anymore (if there is such a thing). I mean, all I’ve been doing lately is bookmarking pictures of pumpkin bread and squash soup and spiced coffee and cider donut recipes—it’s actually embarrassing how much I depend on seasonal Starbucks drinks—but I went to the John Dory Oyster Bar (in the Ace Hotel) with my parents the other night, before the PSATs, and even though it was cold out, everything we had felt like it was made to be eaten this season. It is like that every time we go.

            One thing that is always on the menu is this thing that is so weird and amazing I can’t even describe it. I’ll try. It’s my most favorite thing there, with the buttery Parker House Rolls coming in a close second. It’s a cracker sandwich of sorts, between this type of crackers called Carta di Musica, which are paper-thin. The crackers are spread with a little bit of butter, drizzled with chili oil, and filled with shaved bottarga. I don’t know how to describe bottarga without making it sound gag-worthy, but I assure you it is delicious. It’s like a dried fish roe thing, and it’s sliced very thin and laid out on the cracker. Bottarga tastes kind of salty, but you just have to trust me and try it.

            The John Dory is really exciting if nothing else. There are always inventive, modern takes of classic seafood things on the menu; my parents can vouch for their famous cocktails (I’m so cool, out on a Friday night with Mommie and Daddy). There are fancy neon signs in the windows and it has been next door to Opening Ceremony since before everybody knew what it was. The one thing that is annoying about The John Dory is the fact that there are high ceilings and hard, metal surfaces everywhere, making it hard to hear anything except the constant noise of everyone else. This is irritating, but also stupidly exciting.

            Perpendicular to the bar, there is also a seafood bar, where you can see a beautiful display of whatever crazy thing they have that night. Sometimes it is of towering crab claws, or giant fish and lobsters, but it’s always interesting. The John Dory is the best kind of crowded.

            I love the design of the restaurant. There is black, shiny tiling lining the walls and the bars. The tables are a kind of stained copper material that makes sure the restaurant isn’t too shiny. There are also crazy shells and posters of every type of lobster imaginable. If you eat during the day, the whole room is just flooded with light and at night it is so festive.

            Anyway, you should definitely go here, and it’s pretty close to Korea Town if you are visiting and want to go look around afterwards.



P.S. I just saw the website when I went to link it and it’s pretty cool so you should just go look for a second.