We were getting a little hungry and noticed a clean and sleek oyster bar. Of course, we had to stop and taste some of the excellent seafood on display at the bar. The restaurant is Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar. Cull means a lobster that has lost one of its claws. Pistol means a lobster that has lost both of its claws. In addition to lobster, Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar has an incredible selection of both east coast and west coast oysters, shrimp, live scallops, live uni, and clams. Since our initial visit in 2013, Cull & Pistol has become our favorite restaurant in the City. We always try to visit whenever we are in town. In our opinion, Cull & Pistol also has the best happy hour.
Cull and Pistol’s aesthetic is sleek and contemporary, yet warm and inviting. We always sit at the bar. Part of our experience is interacting with fellow customers, bartenders, and servers. We also enjoy watching the fresh seafood from the cold bar being prepared.
To celebrate our anniversary, we spent an evening dining at our favorite restaurant. We toasted the meal with a lovely bottle of rose champagne. The cold bar selection was incredible as always. We ordered a sampling of oysters and live scallops.
For the meal, Sous Chef Josh Davoudi composed an incredible selection of dishes that highlight the restaurant’s various preparations and flavors. The first dish we tried was a “Moroccan themed” grilled octopus. Chef Josh’s inspiration for the dish comes from his uncle. The octopus was first braised and then grilled. The octopus was served on a rice bean puree and accented with dehydrated apricots, dehydrated olives, merguez sausage, and fresh mint leaves. The octopus was very tender and tasty. The flavors were terrific and left our mouths and tongues dancing in anticipation of the next bite for different tastes and textures.
Next, Tom and I tried the heirloom carrot salad. It consisted of three different kinds of carrots, arugula, fennel, fennel-crusted croutons, and ginger vinaigrette. Hot smoked salmon was studded throughout the mixture. We loved how fresh and clean this dish was. Often, salads are hidden under additional toppings and dressing. This was not the case. We tasted each of the elements separately, and when combined, all of the flavors and textures become even more elevated.
Sea urchin carbonara is an insane dish. If you love uni and carbonara, you have to try this plate. Prepared with bucatini, white fish, bacon lardoons, and parmesan, this pasta blew our minds. Just a warning- it is vibrant but extremely satisfying. All of the other dishes we had were light and healthy, so this was a great dish to bring balance to the meal.
When we didn’t think things could get any better, Chef Josh sent out another platter: Salt baked whole fish. Tom and I have never tried this preparation before, but now we are hooked! It is extremely rare to find it on a menu, and if you do, it is a must order. Cull & Pistol is the only restaurant in the City preparing fish in this manner. Run; don’t walk to Cull & Pistol for this dish! The fish, a Mediterranean Dorande, was flavored with lemon slices, sprigs of thyme, and garlic. The presentation was spectacular. The top portion of the salt was removed, exposing the whole fish. We love to eat whole fish. It’s such a communal experience, and you somehow feel a little more connected to the meal.
Our meal at Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar was genuinely spectacular. The preparations and flavors are both locally and internationally inspired. However, Tom and I noted that although we enjoyed the lively, diverse tastes, it never overpowered the dish. It only enhanced the food. This can be difficult to achieve, but the team at Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar pull it off.
Although we currently live near the Connecticut coast, we cannot find a spectacular seafood restaurant or market. Instead, we get our seafood fix whenever we come to Manhattan. Funny, but true! We cannot speak more highly of our experience at Cull & Pistol. The service and food cannot be beaten! If you prefer to purchase fresh seafood for home preparation, or have a taste for sushi, or want to take away a deliciously prepared meal for a picnic on the High Line, stop by The Lobster Place seafood market next door to the restaurant. The Lobster Place and Cull & Pistol are part of a family owned and operated business that originated in 1974. Please, do yourself a favor and stop by on your next visit to Chelsea Market!