Saturday, 12 October 2013

New York Series - Cull and Pistol

There are two things you see a lot of in New York, oyster bars and lobster bars, so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered a combined lobster and oyster bar when wandering through the Chelsea Markets.  We had been looking to visit an oyster bar for most of the holiday, especially considering how cheap oysters were in New York.  I had been regaled of wondrous tales of oyster bars that had happy hours where the tasty molluscs were a dollar an oyster, but had yet to be in the right place at the right time.

We had been wandering around Manhattan's West Side for a while looking for something to eat for dinner and incredibly, not finding anything that we felt like eating.  The Chelsea Markets had become a bit of a default position during our two week stay in the area, so we decided to head back to the markets and see if we could get into the Lobster Place.  The Lobster Place is a bit of an institution in New York, a place where you can go and pick your own lobster (and most other seafood options) and get it cooked on the spot.  There's no formal dining area in the Lobster Place, it's just benches and standing room only.  Unfortunately, when we arrived the place was packed and doing our usual thing of not wanting to wait we left a little disappointed.

We didn't get too far though, in fact we got about 5 meters before we glimpsed the spare tables next door at Cull and Pistol, the oyster bar (which is owned by the Lobster Place).  A little fed up with walking around we decided that it was time to finally check out one of New York's famous oyster bars and without further hesitation, went in and grabbed one of the free tables.  

Cull and Pistol was not a huge space but what space there was, was dominated with a huge bar running down one side of the restaurant, which was reserved for those just wanting to sit and enjoy the oysters on offer.  We contemplated the bar area, but wanted to explore a little more of the menu than just the oysters.  As you would expect, the menu of Cull and Pistol was very heavily influenced by seafood and in particular lobsters.  As we were starting to wonder why it was an oyster bar, the very extensive list of oysters was placed in front of us.  The idea at C&P was to use a checkbox to highlight the type and number of oysters that you want and then sit back and relax as they start to hit the table.

The oyster menu ran quite deep and provided a description of where the oysters were from and what were their main characteristics.  There were East Coast and West Coast oysters but we were advised that the East Coast oysters were the better choice.  We ended up getting some Rhode Island and native New York oysters that promised to be plump and sweet with medium to high salinity.  When the oysters were placed in front of us the were indeed plump as promised and after my first taste, I knew  we had made the right choice, they were sweet and delicious.

I loved the oysters but I was there for more than that, as I was really keen on sampling some more sweet sweet lobster meat, especially after our Ed's Lobster bar experience (see post here).  I had been next door to the Lobster Place a little earlier and sampled a massive 2.5 pound lobster and really couldn't get the taste off my mind.  This time I thought I would try another New York classic, the lobster roll, and save myself the problem of extracting the lobster meat.  There were two options for lobster rolls, the CT lobster roll, which was warm or the ME lobster roll, which was cold.  Easy choice for me, I went with the CT lobster roll with the lobster butter and lemon on a top split bun with fries.  The roll was heaven, with the generous amount warm lobster meat dripping with mayo and butter, it was simply superb.   The fries that came with the dish we actually pretty nice too, so overall, I was in little lobster heaven!

It was still in the middle of a heat wave and SC was not particularly hungry so decided on something a little lighter.  It was the lobster bisque that she turned to, especially after some of the amazing soups we had already had in Manhattan.  The bisque itself was creamy and rich and just delicious but the element that made it really special was the humungous pieces of lobster meat included in the bisque.  I had a bit of a sample and seriously considered ordering a bowl myself, but sanity prevailed after I had finished my roll.

We were again reminded that some of the very best food can be prepared with little done to it to provide an amazing meal.  The oysters were large and surprisingly filling but in reality I think we could have easily pigged out and eaten a couple of dozen each.  I ate mine au natural but SC included some of the dipping sauces with hers and loved them just as much.

After eating the amazing lobster roll at Cull and Pistol, I spent the next two weeks wandering from lobster bar to lobster bar trying to recapture that magic moment when I had my first at C&P.  I'm not sure if I was like the addict chasing that first high and never quite achieving it or I just didn't find a lobster roll as nice as the one I had at C&P.  If I had my time over again, I might consider just going back to C&P multiple times to just enjoy that amazing meal.

The only problem with that is Manhattan is just too big with so many other great things to eat, I am sure if I just keep looking and trying new foods, I will come across the next great taste and I know I won't regret it.

All the different oyster providers, so many choices
Not a huge space but dominated by the oyster bar.  This place filled up quickly after this shot
Such plump and wonderful looking oysters
We were given a lovely complimentary ice cream as we paid our bill

Cull & Pistol on UrbanspoonLobster Place on Urbanspoon


  1. I love the idea of that oyster menu and being able to sample oysters from so many different regions. What a feast!

    1. Yeah, it was a great way to do it - I wonder if there are any here? ..... mmmm, might need to look into that!


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