Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar
101 2nd Ave (6th St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 979-1012
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Southern
Area: East Village
Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar is the sort of place that makes you feel like a million bucks, even if you are worth significantly less. This stunning little townhouse in the East Village - owned by Jack and Grace Lamb, the picture perfect couple behind the sushi temple known as Jewel Bako - is a dollhouse-sized gem wrapped up in cherry-red gingham wallpaper, where chef Allison Vines - Rushing has created a magical wonderland for discerning gastronomes - what she describes as "a New York kind of place, with a little Southern heart a inspiration."
Dinner at Jack's can take one of two paths. Your first option is down in the more casual, but no less stunning, Oyster Bar, where you'll find tall cherry-red leather banquettes and a magnificent marble oyster bar for sipping glasses of 1990 Dom Perignon ($250 a bottle), slurping back oysters six ways (with a variety of perky mignonettes, $14), or making your way through the assortment of fruit de mer like littlenecks ($2), taylor bay scallops (in season), Maine lobster (out of the shell $24/$14) and west and east coast oysters ($2).
If you chose to dine upstairs, you will pass through a precious little kitchen where Vines-Rushing and her husband Slade Rushing (her co-chef) cook, side by side, in peaceful harmony. (So far, no fights have erupted.) The small dining room is like a fairy tale - a handful of tiny tables, elegantly appointed with fine linens, and vintage china and flatware. The food is similarly magical. Oysters Rockefeller "Deconstructed" ($16)- oysters poached in beurre fondue, topped with spinach and watercress cooked in brown butter, garnished with a bacon chip and grated licorice root—is a delicious dish that hits all the flavor zones and reminds you what good cooking is all about. A salad composed of shaved vegetables dressed in a racy pickled peach vinaigrette ($9) is a perfect example of how to fire up simple ingredients with some Southern love. Tender braised pig cheeks are perfectly cooked and served with collards finished with a lip-licking housemade pepper vinegar. A pink peppercorn crusted halibut is similarly flawless—meaty and moist and doused in a fierce morel bourbon sauce.
Desserts are worth the extra weight, especially the delicate Bananas Foster ($9), served with fresh whipped cream, spooned, tableside, over a delicate rum-soaked baba. This is luxury.
Review By: Andrea Strong