Grand Banks is an absolute treasure in New York City. It’s a place to unwind and take a breather from the hustle and bustle while enjoying some top-notch oysters and spectacular views of the city and Hudson River.
Much like the Frying Pan, Grand Banks is a bar/restaurant located on a ship docked in the Hudson. Unlike the Frying Pan, however, Grand Banks has a much more intimate, relaxed, classier vibe. Part of this is because of the type of ship that Grand Banks is located on. It’s a historic F/V Sherman Zwicker, which was part of a large fleet of schooners that used to fish on the GRAND BANKS of the North Atlantic, move its cargo to South America, and bring back salt. It’s the last original, saltbank fishing vessel in existence, 142-feet long, and the largest wooden vessel in New York City.
Grand Banks is a seasonal destination, only open from June through the end of October. Their website says, “In the winter we head south for warmer weather,” which to me just sounds so…cool? It really is the perfect summer/sunny weather spot though. You enter the ship from the southwest corner of Pier 25 and take a seat at either the first bar, which only serves drinks, one of the tables (I recommend getting a table on the south side if you go this route so you get a better view), or at the oyster bar where you can watch them shuck those delicious oysters.
That being said, the prices are a little steep. It’s easier to rationalize them if you just think that part of your bill covers the ambience, views (um, hello Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower), and awesome ship your sitting on. They also offer a happy hour from 4 to 6 pm on Mondays through Thursdays that makes things a little more affordable as you can get the Navy Beach oysters from the Long Island Sound for $1. Otherwise, the oysters cost about $3 to $4 each. I bet that happy hour is sounding a little better now, huh?
They have New York, East Coast, and West Coast varieties of oysters, and even a kind called the Kiwi Cup from New Zealand. Each order comes with plenty of lemons and three sauces–red-wine mignonette, cucumber-coriander mignonette, and cocktail sauce. Faaaancy. In addition to fresh oysters, the menu also has chowder, ceviche, baked oysters, a lobster roll, and Old Bay chips. None of these are cheap either, but they are some nice seafood alternatives if you’re not into oysters.
My two friends and I ordered three dozen oysters to share. I got some crazy looks from people when they got delivered to our table since I was the only one seated at the time and people probably thought I was going to devour them all myself (I wish). I also split the lobster roll, which comes with the spiced chips, with one of my friends. I hadn’t had oysters in months, so having some this fresh (and sustainably sourced!) was a real treat. The lobster roll struck a good balance between the mayonnaise dressing and meat, as the tarragon paprika mayo didn’t overpower the lobster which I sometimes find can make or break this dish, and the roll was buttery and soft, which is always a plus.
Head on over to this nautical oasis on the edge of Manhattan before the season is over, or make note of it for next year. Any way you do it, the important thing is that you just GO because it truly is a gem in this city of skyscrapers.
Navy Beach oysters, lobster roll
Manhattan, NY 10013