Keep those dirty minds under control, please – a Naked Cowboy is a type of oyster.
When I travelled to New York, I stayed with a friend who lived just outside the city, in Chappaqua. This meant that, every day, we took the train into Manhattan and alighted at Grand Central Station.
This also meant that we spent a fair amount of time waiting for trains and looking around this iconic building. But I couldn’t leave NYC without eating in the station’s famous Oyster Bar, so we met there one day for lunch.
The Oyster Bar is split into two halves: the restaurant (with individual cloth-covered tables) and the counter area, where you sit at a communal table-height bar to eat. We weren’t feeling posh enough for the restaurant, so we opted for the latter.
Well, we decided, we’re in the Oyster Bar. We have to try the oysters.
After all, travel is all about new experiences, right?
Fortunately, the Oyster Bar will sell you a minimum of one oyster, so we didn’t have to order a whole plate-full. We browsed the menu and immaturely chose the one that made us giggle: the Naked Cowboy.
The oysters arrived on their bed of ice, looking for all the world like the sort of dish that someone else (someone more sophisticated) would order.
Then we had to google how to eat them. (I know, I know… Though in case you were wondering, this is what you do: first, you use your fork to separate the meat from the shell; then you add any sauces or condiments; then you pick it up and tip it into your mouth, chew once or twice and then swallow.) You learn something new every day.
Something else I learned that day in New York: I don’t really like oysters.
It wasn’t that it tasted unpleasant. In fact, it tasted mostly of shellfish, sea-water and the sauce they were served with. It was the experience of eating it that I didn’t like. The sliminess of it. THe messiness as I spilled the juice / water / whatever it was everywhere. Mostly, the sheer size of it as I tried to get the whole thing in my mouth (no, seriously, I meant it – no ‘big naked cowboy’ euphemisms please)!
But hey, I tried it, and I can chalk it up to experience. Besides, the teriyaki tuna steak burger I had for my main meal was delicious.
And the Oyster Bar itself, like the rest of Grand Central Terminal, is architecturally beautiful, tucked away under the arches of the station. And as if that wasn’t enough, these arches also hide a Whispering Gallery. Stand at opposite corners outside the restaurant and talk into the arch, and the other person will be able to hear you as clearly as if you were talking into their ear. We did this far more times than necessary while waiting for trains back to Chappaqua – and it’s a great way to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations!
So although the oysters themselves weren’t an enormous success, the Oyster Bar was a beautiful place to go for lunch, in the iconic setting of Grand Central Station. I would definitely go back there – I just wouldn’t have the oysters next time!