BITE OF THE MOMENT: #Oystergram Your Heart Out at Crave Fishbar

[all photos by Conor Rose]

If you’re not summer Friday-ing by heading to the beach this weekend, a cocktail and oysters is the go-to happy hour choice for summer if you’re stuck in the city. Find a good oyster happy hour deal in NYC and you’re golden. Extra points for a spot with more than just bar food fare if you want to stretch that happy hour to a happy few hours with dinner, and even more extra points for one with an outdoor space – luckily, we’ve already found the exact spot for you. Enter: Crave Fishbar on the Upper West Side.

Executive Chef Todd Mitgang runs the kitchen at Crave, creating dishes that not only satisfy patrons, but also the environment. Crave Fishbar is a key player in the sustainable seafood world of NYC – as partners of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, they serve only wild caught, sustainable and responsibly farmed seafood. Along those lines, they are also charter members of the James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch Program as well as a charitable partner of the Billion Oyster Project, donating shucked shells to further natural oyster restoration efforts.

Crave Fishbar is perhaps best well known for its generous happy hour, known as #Oystergram Happy Hour – all the oysters on the menu are $1 each, for two hours every day. Oysters are super popular here, so put in your order as soon as you arrive. We went with a mix of a dozen East Coast oysters, namely two each of the Montauk Point, Island Creek, Black Duck, Malpeque, Fin de la Baie, and Blue Point, all of which were freshly shucked, chilled, and perfectly briny.

Oysters aren’t the only thing Crave has to boast about – order them alongside any of their small dishes and you’ll be set. We had a hard time narrowing one down but eventually hit the jackpot with the Rice Dusted Point Judith Calamari, tossed in Thai miso sauce, bean sprouts, and Aleppo chili, an addictive appetizer that I imagine could be perfect for snacking at the bar with a few drinks. The fact that it’s gluten-free is a happy surprise for a dish that’s extremely rare in gluten-free form. Scorching evening? The watermelon topped with scallion, gochujang, and feta is exactly what you’ll need to survive the heat, with the cooling, sweet flavors of the watermelon complementing the gochujang’s heat and salty feta.

Entrees include a selection of both seafood and some popular non-seafood dishes, but we were here for a full seafood experience. The Miso Glazed Barramundi is a top seller, flavorful and glazed with white miso and honey, and served with plancha grilled jumbo asparagus, dressed with chipotle oil. The Plancha Grilled Swordfish is a delicate yet hefty piece of fish atop eggplant caponata and cubanelle pepper, finished with a balsamic reduction.

All desserts are made in house, and we opted for the Milk & Honey – a decadent milk chocolate peanut butter cake topped with crispy honeycomb, served with honey ice cream. The cocktail menu rotates every so often, and we indulged in the Papaya Punch – a summery concoction of vodka, aperol,  papaya, lemon, agave, served in a perfectly Instagrammable shark mug (and yes I immediately ordered a set off Amazon). We also tried the Burning Man (corsair triple smoke whiskey, creme de peche, angostura), a twist on the typical Old Fashioned.

We left so completely (and happily) stuffed. There’s a Midtown location too that we haven’t been to (yet) but if our stomachs could speak, we’re guessing it’s as good as this one.

You can visit Crave Fishbar’s Upper West Side location at 428 Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan. This meal was provided by Crave Fishbar, however all opinions are our own.