We’ve been going to Aquagrill for many years and it is by far our favorite raw bar/oyster spot in NYC. We’ve gone frequently over the last 5 years as our Manhattan Mini Storage location is blocks away. I realized it has been two years since I updated this post, which is quite a shame. We’ve enjoyed many a good meal here. It never disappoints, particularly this last visit with soft shell crabs in season. It was a gorgeous sunny day that produced some killer pics too.
7/29/2011 First Write Up
Aquagrill is a Soho institution for oysters. We have always loved sitting at the bar and ordering from their extensive selection of oysters shucked right there in front of you. We are always looking for oyster spots and sometimes when restaurants run specials the oysters either suck or are not properly shucked. Here you can always count on a perfect shuck and even the specials are good.
The interior is a bit white tablecloth uptight unless you nab a seat at the bar, which is always our first choice. The patio outside is also choice if you can get a table! Today we lucked out and arrived at opening time (noon) and had the patio to ourselves.
I had the ‘Shucker’s Special’ lunch which is soup/chowder of your choice, 6 ‘Featured’ oysters (today Blue Point East Coast), and a mesclun salad for $23. It was a nice light and simple lunch. I paired it with gazpacho since it was roasting hot outside. Below is a link to the oyster page to give you an idea of how extensive a menu they offer in this category:
Steve also had the gazpacho. It was laden with shrimp and topped with creme fraiche. Perfect for a summer day. He had the Grilled Rare Yellowfin Tuna Sandwich Special which differs slightly from the standard menu entry. It is made with hummus, grilled onions, tomatoes and arugula. It was served perfectly rare with just a touch of grilled sear on the outside.
Last week I was on an outright mission to eat soft shell crab. I read about several spots with great sandwiches, one of which was The Dutch. But with weekend crowds and needing to stop by the storage bin to pick up my summer swimwear, why not make a reservation at one of our favorite seafood spots? I checked the previous day’s specials. There it was! Much to my disappointment, when we arrived it was not on the daily specials?! Oh no, had they run out Saturday night? I inquired and they were OK with making me a special order. Whew! And this was one of the most special Soft Shell Crab dishes I’ve ever had! Not to mention gorgeous. But not to get ahead of myself…
The place filled up rather quickly and service was slow, but we were in a mellow mood and felt like grazing for a few hours. We started with two Bloody Marys. I always forget that I don’t enjoy their bloody. This is one down side since I love a bloody with my oysters. Get the White Bordeaux! The presentation is nice in a crystal glass, but it is heavy on horseradish and a bit too spicy to enjoy.
But certainly the bloody didn’t ruin our meal. We just opted to get a second drink before our entrees came out. But first we had our Appetizers to finish. They took quite a while to arrive. Steve ordered 6 oysters, all East Coasters – Malpeque, Canada Cup and Pemaquid. I decided on Maine Periwinkles. I’d never had one and I thought what the hell. Well imagine my surprise when a giant pile of the tiniest snails I’d ever seen landed in front of me. I am quite the escargot fan, so this didn’t phase me in the slightest. I had expected more of a mussel, so I quickly googled to find they are small sea snails. Lemon Aioli is a plus with this one :). And it took 1/2 an hour to dig all those little suckers out with the rather clever periwinkle tool.
Malpeque ($2.60 each), Canada Cup ($2.65 each), Pemaquid ($2.90 each) Oysters $16.30
Fresh Maine Periwinkles with Lemon Aioli $11.50
Steve’s favorite brunch item here is the Crab Benedict. Nobody has fresher crab than Aquagrill for their Eggs Benedict. Every time I taste it I wish I had ordered it even though it sounds like a typical brunch menu item to avoid. And who doesn’t love ratatouille? Never served frequently enough in restaurants, I’d say!
Crab Benedict with Fresh Maine Peekytoe Crabmeat, Hash Brown Potatoes & Ratatouille $17.50
And the finest item has been saved for last. Sadly, it isn’t listed on the menu, but the preparation involves mandarin orange, which gives the sauce that gorgeous color…I ordered two. Apparently there are Appetizer and full Entree sizes. One would have been fine. $33
Did you forget about this classic restaurant over the years? Get to Aquagrill for your oyster fix and if you love soft shell crabs, order them here! I also had a nice one at The Dutch.
210 Spring Street @ Sixth Ave. – Soho