All throughout New York City, there are great restaurants to drink in, and also great bars to eat in, and they all serve different purposes. Meeting your aunt for a drink before you guys go catch Jersey Boys? Go to a restaurant bar. Order a martini and a glass of Pinot Noir. Maybe they'll have marcona almonds to snack on. Meeting for a first date you have a feeling will go well, at least in the sense that one of you will say, "So, do you like hummus? Should we order the trio of Mediterranean dips to share?" In that case, go to a cocktail bar where they'll probably have a trio of dips.
Zadie's doesn't fit into either of these categories exactly - it's more of a hybrid. We initially kept referring to this place as Zadie's Oyster Bar, until we realized it was actually called Zadie's Oyster Room. Very clever, restaurant-naming authorities. In this case, that's the owner of Hearth, which is right down the block. If you're an East Village vet, you might remember the wine bar Terroir - this is the same space.
Zadie's is just what it sounds like: a single room serving almost exclusively oysters, prepared every way you can think of: raw, steamed, baked, fried, broiled, poached. They come topped with prosciutto, and ginger, and leeks, and vermouth, and hijiki, and fennel, and probably some other ingredients you're going to have to either Google on your phone or ask the waiter about. There are some other small plates that change seasonally, but it's a stretch to build a full meal here, unless you want to eat oysters in a lot of different varieties. You should plan to wash down your oysters with sparkling wine, especially during the Monday-Friday 5-7 happy hour, when both can be had for half price. There's regular wine and beer too, but no liquor.
Zadie's isn't quite as lively as our longtime favorite East Village oyster bar Upstate, and it's probably not going to become a standby for us just yet, but we'd certainly come back. While it's not the restaurant bar for your aunt or the cocktail bar for your upcoming date, it's a nice spot to meet a friend - just make sure that they like oysters first.
Topped with a cheesy parmesan crust, the broiled oysters are our favorite order here. Just the right amount of greasy and funky.
Never going to be mad about a fried oyster.
With garlic and vermouth in here, these steamed oysters end up somewhat reminiscent of eating buttery, garlicky clams. Not bad, but not our favorite way to eat oysters.
These ones come with little slivers of ham on them. Tasty, but the broiled ones are better if you're looking for a crispy, buttery option (which you should be.)
Last but not least, oysters can also be eaten in their natural form, in several varieties. Don't be afraid to keep it classic here.
The non-oyster options change seasonally: on our first visit, we had crab cake sliders and a smashed cucumber salad with trout roe. They're all solid, and worth trying if you want to fill up a bit more. Otherwise, you can stick to oysters.