Warm weather happy hours that include specials on raw oysters are — thankfully — not uncommon in Manhattan. However, those offered by chef Kurt Gutenbrunner’s The Upholstery Store in the West Village stand out as shining examples of true piddock appreciation in a sea of hastily shucked bivalves.
Some may be familiar with Upholstery Store as a charming cocktail spot on picturesque Washington Street, and one should certainly explore the bar’s offerings while there — order the bright Fairy Godmother with gin, lemon, crème de violet, simple syrup, Meyer lemon bitters, and an absinthe rinse, or opt for the heavily satisfying riff on a white Russian, cheekily named The Dude, comprising spiced horchata, aged rum, averna amaro, vanilla, and angostura bitters. Whatever you decide to imbibe, it all pairs exceedingly well with the venue’s inventive and indulgent oysters.
You can order both the East and West Coast varieties naked for just a $1 each during happy hour, but I highly recommend opting for the garnished versions, which are a modest $7 a pair — there’s uni with pickled cabbage, raw tuna and caviar, passion fruit with seaweed, and the surprisingly refreshing cucumber and mint.
All the choices are pretty spectacular, but the tuna and caviar is a seafood-lover’s dream: the layering of the three oceanic elements (caviar, tuna, and oyster) helps one’s palate to identify each distinct flavor as they merge and play off one another on your tongue, releasing a kind of nautical symphony for your mouth — certainly a culinary performance that shouldn't be missed