Since it was the Boyfriend’s mother’s birthday and she was thinking about going back to Fish for her birthday dinner, I was kind of in an oyster and seafood mood. I did some research on Yelp and came across Upstate, located in the East Village. With a 4 star review, I was intrigued. After reading some reviews, I knew I had to pay them a visit. So I sent the link to the Boyfriend and we were on our way. We arrived around 5:30 on a Friday and there were only one table for two and a couple of bar seats left. Upstate is pretty small but they had a full house. By the time we ordered around 5:45, the waitresses were already starting a waitlist that had an estimated wait time of 30 minutes to an hour. So make sure to get here early!
We were really interested in their Happy Hour Special, which runs every day from 5 to 7. The special involved 6 oysters of your choice with a draft beer of your choice. They have an interesting list of oysters that can change daily depending on the availability of fresh oysters. There are usually 3 East Coast and 3 West Coast oysters available for the special every day. They do offer a wide selection of other oysters so if you have the cash, feel free to splurge on the others!
We decided on two happy hour specials so we would get 6 oysters each. I went with the Southhampton Double White beer, which has a banana and orange flavor. The Boyfriend went with their Kelso Pils, which is a Czech style beer with a hint of sweetness. I liked my beer but I really enjoyed the Kelso. It went down very smoothly and I would definitely go with that next time.
We went with two of each East Coast and West Coast oyster that was offered. Going clockwise, we started with the East Coast oysters. You can just tell by the size. We went with the usual BluePoint, an East Coast that I cannot remember, and a Stony Book oyster from Long Island. Then we began with the West Coast oysters, which are much smaller. We had a Fanny Bay from British Columbia, Bahia Falsa from California and a Skookum from Washington. My favorite out of the bunch was definitely the Bahia Falsa from California – it had a very nice sweet taste to it. I prefer West Coast oysters over East Coast because it’s a lot sweeter. Despite West Coast oysters’ small size, they tend to pack a lot more flavor.
We decided on whim to try another West Coast oyster – Royal Miyagi from British Columbia ($2.75 each). These were probably my favorite of the night. Despite the small size, they were packed with flavor. The oysters were sweet and creamy. The Boyfriend says that Kumamotos are the best for West Coast oysters but since I’ve never had one, I’d say the Royal Miyagi is now my new favorite oyster.
Oysters can get pretty filling so we decided to share an entrée instead of ordering our own. We went with their Fettuccine with clams ($14). It was an excellent choice. Despite the small size of the bowl, we were very surprised with the amount of pasta inside. We polished off the clams before we dug into the pasta. The pasta was cooked with lots of garlic so you can bet it was very flavorful. I almost couldn’t finish my portion of the dish because there was so much!
We finished off the night with a complimentary piece of whiskey pound cake made by the owner’s wife. It was delicious! I loved it. It really made me think about the Bermudian rum cakes that I absolutely adore. I kind of wish there was more after we finished our slice!
The food was amazing. The oysters were beyond fresh and were very well shucked. But I really must comment on the service. Our waitress was attentive without being too overbearing. Despite the fact that they had over 8 parties on the waiting list while we were dining, we were never rushed. They didn’t slap all our food onto the table in an attempt to get us to eat faster. The timing of our dishes was actually perfect. We finished our oysters and had a couple of minutes to let it sink in before our entrée came. There is really nothing bad I can say about Upstate. I would definitely be back.