I Cheat Because I Care: Pearl Oyster Bar, (Red Bamboo), Chikalicious

Oh you dastardly website. Were it not for you, would I have said “yes” to Kirk yesterday and broken my four days of healthy, nutrtious eating to enjoy a lavish, wildly expensive and mayonaissey lobster roll at Pearl Oyster Bar?

Ok, yes, I would have. And it wasn’t Kirk’s idea—it was mine. But we don’t change our lifestyles overnight do we? Baby steps, people, baby steps. Four days of healthy eating, then a little cheating, and back on it. I was so back on it today—all my sins are forgiven. Enjoy my sins.

So Pearl Oyster Bar. Funny, remember how I said Bleeker Street was my favorite food street in New York? And that Cornelia was my favorite side street off my favorite food street? Well it ends up that Pearl Oyster Bar is ON Cornelia right next to Home where I went with my brother. I’ve walked past it 1000 times and never noticed it. Even when it was our destination, Kirk and I walked past it and had to call to see where it was. It’s kind of invisible there on the street. Here’s the doorway:


Amanda Hesser has a whole bit on Pearl Oyster Bar in “Cooking For Mr. Latte.” She has recipes for their Caesar salad and their lobster roll, I think. It’s supposed to be the best lobster roll in the city. I’ve read that other places too. Kirk heard that also. We anxiously anticipated the lobster roll.

On the menu it says: “Lobster Roll….MKT price.” On the chalkboard, it stated what that market price was: $22.

“Wow, that’s a mighty expensive lobster roll,” I said.

But Kirk and I were not dissuaded. We each ordered a lobster roll and pretty promptly they arrived:


When I told my mom about it today and how much it cost she asked, rather logically: “Well, was it the best you ever had?”

I thought about it and answered: “Yes.” It really was. I think Kirk thought so too. He said, “Damn, this is a really good lobster roll.”

I mean the meat was so fresh. Sometimes I’ve had lobster rolls where the meat was stringy and hard to bite through. This wasn’t the case here. And the mayonaisse herb mixture had a perfect balanace. The brioche roll was the perfect vehicle for everything. And the french fries were my favorite sort of fries—skinny and salty. I love skinny, salty fries.

So I loved my cheating lunch at Pearl Oyster Bar. If you’re going to cheat, why not cheat in style?

Then it was off to do work. I’m trying to write the first acts of two separate plays for next week. That’s a lot of work. I’m going slightly batty over it.

When dinner came around, I had plans with John. You know John, you met him in Chinatown. John recently returned from Iceland and he’s going to do a write-up of what he ate there for this site. (Sneak preview: he ate whale!)

We went to this place near his dorm called Red Bamboo. Everything that Zen Palate did wrong, Red Bamboo did right. Their food was great vegan food. This is the best fake chicken I’ve ever had:


Several times I said to John, “Are you sure this is fake chicken?”

“Yes,” he said, hitting me in the head with a fork.

The best things about this fake chicken are: (1) the marinade, and (2) how they cook it over coals. It says it on the menu. “Cooked over coals.” So you get all that magic of real chicken cooked over coals without all that chickeny evil vegans hate so much. I enjoyed it.

But now on to more cheating. That was a healthy dinner, you must admit. But then we were bored. We wanted dessert. We were walking to the East Village. A dark mischevious light bulb went off over my head: “Chikalicious!”


Chickalicious is my dream restaurant. A dessert lover by trade, this place was made for me. It’s two pastry chefs who give you a three course dessert “dinner” for $12. The place is tiny and you can watch the women work as you sit and chat—they’re the ones who serve it to you too:


When John and I arrived, there was no wait. We sat in a little booth and a friendly waiter man guided us through the menu.

Oh, so many choices! How to choose, how to choose. And the menu changes every three days. It’s not like you can come back and try the ones you rejected. So I made my choice (which you’ll see in a moment), John made his, and we were brought our amuse.


This picture’s blurry and strange looking—-almost ethereal. Well that’s how it tasted: rosemary gelee and yogurt sorbet. What a weird combo but it totally worked. We both “mmmed” our way through it. The yogurt sorbet was creamy and luscious, the rosemary gelee subtle and only slightly perfumed with rosemary.

For my dessert choice I chose cinnamon baba au rum that came with cherries and some kind of cream:


Of course, it was delicious. I loved it. And small enough and subtle enough not to make me feel TERRIBLY guitly.

John had an apple dessert:


It was baked apple in some kind of pastry with creme fraiche and apple sorbet. His was tasty too.

I must tell you now, sadly, that the petit fors kind of sucked. Believe me, I wanted them to be delicious, but they weren’t:


I know, I know, they LOOK pretty. The coconut marshmallows were ok. But the little poppy seed cream thingies with orange peel on them didn’t taste like much of anything, and the banana cake slices tasted like someone pushed the “mute” button on flavor.

But still, by the end I was enchanted—I love Chikalicious, I’m totally going to go back. And if you have to cheat on your healthy healthy plans, this is the way to do. My penance will be a week of tofu and yoga. These are the things we do for lobster rolls and dessert.

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