The John Dory, or rather The John Dory 2.0, finally opened to the public late last week after some slight delays. This time around, April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman have relaunched their oyster bar in the Ace Hotel, already home to another one of their restaurants, The Breslin. The menu is pared down from the original but still features her famous oyster pan roast though not as of yet since it's only appetizers, bar food and cold plates for now. Is it the comeback of the year as many have touted this to be? To the early word:
The "Flavor Explosion" News: Gotham Gal visits on the second night of service and after noting that while service may not be streamlined yet, the food's already a hit. "If you were ever questioning the doubt that Ken and April wouldn't have a hit on their hand with delicious food, you were poorly misinformed. Everything we ate last night was really good and somethings were over the top." After all, anything that's described as "flavor exploding in your mouth" which she applies to the razor clam ceviche can't be anything less than a hit. The real praise is reserved for the small oyster pan roast. "3 plumpy oysters floating in a buttery oyster stew. On the side is a thin sliced crostini slathered with uni. Dip the crostini in the pan roast and put an oyster on the end and bite. Words can't describe it, really. This is foodie heaven." The service wasn't perfect as she realized that some things they ordered never arrived but chalks it up to the rushed opening and is sure "those kinks will be worked out over time." [Gotham Gal]
The "Enchanting Visionary" News: The Oyster Blog makes no secret that they liked their visit by putting it out there in the headline, "An Oyster worth waiting for at The John Dory Oyster Bar." The plaudits don't end there. "Its not just another hotel restaurant, its an experience and one that should not be missed. The space is an enchanting visionary with a charm that makes you want to stay and play all night." Since they're an oyster blog, they made the rounds, trying every single type of oyster on the menu. The preparation and the quality of the oysters wowed them. "The shucking job was outstanding across the board. Each oyster was intact, with the perfect amount of the brine, and beautifully slid out of its shell. They were of the highest quality, incredibly fresh and plentiful in size." They also had some of the small plates, adding another to the list of those who love the oyster pan roast. "The razor clam ceviche and long island flute with honeycrisp apple were by far our favorite. And we were astounded by the oyster pan roast with umi butter." [The Oyster Blog]
The Love and Amazing News: Yelper Laura P. came for lunch on its second day and had a great go of it if the number of times she uses the words "love" and "amazing" in her review is any indication. What does she love? Well, there's the "copper counter tops and the serious yet colorful button back leather chairs" and the "two big round fish tanks, reminiscing of the old fabulous oyster bar's aquarium." What about the amazing? "The actual oyster bar looks amazing, really reminded me of hog island oyster place in SF... we had the scallop crudo, AMAZING, I've never had raw scallops this good, it's citricy and light" If there's anything she didn't love in her review, it may be the lobster soup which was "a tiny bit saltier than I wanted but still delicious." [Yelp]
The "Possible Wine Swapping" News: Eater commenter GridNYC stops in for lunch on the second day and thinks something fishy is going on with the wine. "Ordered a bottled wine...it came opened and warm to the table?? Hmm...did they sub the barrel wine???" They think it might be a misnomer to call the place an oyster bar when there's only four types available and also comments on the way they do oysters there. "It's oysters their way...no Tabasco...no cocktail sauce...and no bread with 24 oysters!!" [ENY Comments]
The "Teeny, Tiny Portions" News: From the tipline, we get this sad tale of a Saturday night dinner. "One thing I can say is do not come hungry. While the flavors are there I can honestly say that the portions are miniscule. My girlfriend who is a size small and eats like a bird remarked that the plates were tiny." At least they have no complaints about the flavors. "The live uni was very tasty with a pomegranate and pepper sauce, Unique and fresh. The razor clam ceviche was fresh and briny although the portion was tiny." But even when they're praising the flavor, the portion size does not go without mention. "The coup de grace came with their signature Oyster Pan Roast. While it was extremely flavorful; it was served in a four ounce tea cup (I kid you not) and came with three oysters. To say that I could've eaten three of these is an understatement." The tale ends with some sage advice. "While the food is delicious and flavorful I feel that unfortunately the portion size will kill the John Dory. I could in no conscience send anyone there who had any kind of appetite." [Dan Miliker, Soho Foodie]
The "Make Love to the Prawns" News: Also from the tipline, we get a mixed review. No idea of when our tipster went but it's noted there was "no queue to get in.. actually pretty empty." The service sounds like it could use some improvement. "They need to learn to wipe down the tables better. No water on arrival had to ask. Wwwwwwaiting for my cocktail. Food is here, cutlery is not." But then we get to the food and it sounds like all is well. "Prawns are enormous. Shit - this might be the best prawn I have ever eaten. Seriously - these prawns are very good indeed. I want to make love to those prawns ALL NIGHT LONG." The drink sounds like it was good too. "Drinks not bad, could do with being a little dryer. And larger." Still, they make a very astute observation, "this isn't so much an oyster bar, as a bar that serves oysters" while adding "maybe I will go to the grand central oyster bar tomorrow and check out the real thing." Ouch. [ENY Tipline]
The Twitterific News: @melissa_ful tweets that it was a "strictly mediocre experience." @evachen212 doesn't seem to have had a much better experience, tweeting "undecapitated eyebally shrimp, gross lobster... quelle disappointment!" @kanakomaeda seems to have had better luck. "Kumamoto Oysters at the John Dory Oyster Bar @ Ace Hotel are so FRESH and so Delicious!!"