I will not lie. It takes a considerable amount of incentive to get me into Brooklyn. It usually means a transfer. It almost always means a longer commute. And it most certainly means that whatever is out there had better be worth it. I weigh these thoughts in my mind as my companion and I don puffy outerwear and colorful hats and make the trek across not just town, but the borough. Siren Oyster Bar is located on a relatively quiet street, and we arrive for a very early dinner by most New Yorker’s standards.
The restaurant, however, is already half full when we enter, and by the time we leave, there’s hardly an empty seat. The interior is clearly renovated, and recently, with a magnificent bar and moody lighting. Tables are nestled perhaps a bit too close for comfort, and the slanted floor means that several tables are wobbly (although easily remedied). We are ushered into a cozy corner table for two, and the manager Jose comes by to personally greet us and a few other guests.
The Beverages at Siren Oyster Bar
Water crackers, crunchy breadsticks, and an olive tapenade greet us before the cocktails do. The tapenade is splendid, with earthy olives and bright olive oil complemented by plump golden raisins. I ditch the crackers and start eating the stuff with a spoon.
My companion, a self-professed “pomegranate addict,” orders the Winter in Brooklyn. We both agree that the vodka here allows the sweetly tart pomegranate flavor to shine and provides a neutral base for the heavy dose of aromatics, courtesy of ginger and nutmeg. He loves “the acidity and spice,” and we note its distinctly seasonal complexity. It’s so good, I will later order another for myself.
My Afternoon Tea has rye and earl grey honey and tastes bright despite its heavier alcoholic sensation. Neither my dining companion nor I can discern the earl grey, and he states that it tastes more citrusy than anything else, but the aftertaste evokes the lingering honey. Our favorite aspect is its mouthfeel, and he compliments the “nice frothiness on top, creating a silky texture.”
My daring partner orders the Saffron Mule next, but the heavily smoked mezcal leaves both of us feeling like our tongues licked the floor of an old car garage (call me a lush, but I think I’m starting to enjoy the taste), and he trades up for an Old Fashioned with Angel’s Envy, which is quite strong (thanks Jose!) but remains nicely balanced. The ice cubes are crystal clear and top-notch.
I am determined to consume as many different types of protein as possible tonight, so we opt for the baby rack of lamb as the starter. It arrives, looking and smelling like an ethereal crown, and I can barely contain myself as my companion snaps a necessary photo. I immediately snag a chop and am bombarded with scents.
There is richness from the fat of the lamb, seared and rendered to perfection. And then there is a delicate, herbaceous sensibility that somehow stabilizes and enhances the lamb’s smoky savoriness.
Biting in, the lamb yields like a velvet curtain, speckled with flaky salt and glistening with the minty chimichurri. It is magnificent and would only be improved by a slightly more consistent hand in the salt distribution. My companion’s notes: “Super fatty in a fantastic way, extremely tender, absolutely delicious.”
Mains & Sides
My NY strip steak arrives on a bed of whipped potatoes (at my request; the original dish is served with roasted potatoes) and is topped with a “garden bouquet,” which includes two sprigs of green onion, roots attached, and two skinny spears of broccolini. A tiny pot of red wine reduction sits adorably on the side. The strangely named garden aside, the entrée is decadent. The steak is cooked to a perfect rare, amply salted, and has been properly rested with no unwanted pools of meat juice to be seen.
The whipped potatoes are pearly white and are garnished with parsley, taste like butter, and feel like puffy clouds melting in my mouth. The broccolini is surprisingly al dente and has not been charcoaled to a brick, despite its microscopic diameter. And the red wine sauce is deeply meaty and has an indulgent mouthfeel. I think I’m doing fine. Better than fine. Then I taste my companion’s dish.
The snow crab legs are swimming in something burnished orange, dotted with herbs and delicious looking particulates, with a consistency somewhere between a soup and a gravy. According to the menu, it is accompanied by confetti potato, corn, and toasted bread, but I see halved baby potatoes instead.
I don’t think it really matters. One taste of that beautiful sauce and I’m a goner. I start unceremoniously plunking everything in it – my truffle fries, my whipped potatoes, my broccolini, my steak. If I had a football, I’d dunk that too. The crab meat is light and sweet, providing freshness and clarity. The sauce provides the oomph. Heavy hitting with umami and brine, tomato and butter, it coats the palate and makes everything else glow. My partner states simply and elegantly, “These are perhaps the best crab legs I have ever had.”
Our truffle fries aren’t covered with specks of real truffle, so I suspect truffle oil, but they are thick cut – more wedge than baton, and “chonky boys” according to my dining partner’s notes – and have enough gravity to offset the occasional oily texture that befalls a thinner fry. They’re also fried immensely well, just fork tender, the slightest crispy edge, and are topped with generous flakes of Parmigiano Reggiano. They come with a sage aioli that, when combined with the sauce from the crab legs, creates something verdant and effervescent.
So what, if we can’t decide on one dessert and end up with two? Sue me. We are informed that the portions are generous but wave any caution aside. There are worse things in life than leftover dessert in one’s fridge.
They arrive in tandem, an apple tartlet and the seasonal cobbler. The former, with dulce de leche and vanilla ice cream, is filled with nostalgia and an excellently executed pastry crust. The classic flavors are simple but never boring or overly saccharine.
The latter is a mixed berry crumble, whose seasonality is briefly debated before admitting that it is still a darn delicious dessert. The berries are tart and macerated for a fuller, sweeter mouthfeel, and the cobbler topping is more butter than flour and possibly oats, lending a rich, toasty, nutty warmth to the otherwise acidic flavor profile. Both are served with vanilla ice cream, and the variance in temperature keeps everything on the right side of hedonistic.
I will admit I had my doubts about Siren Oyster Bar. The online menu seemed the teensiest bit dramatic; the décor a tad trendy. The waitstaff, including our lovely server Mira, seemed almost too nice and too accommodating. But the food, while expensive, is good. Better than good, regarding the crab legs. Classic flavors and techniques done truly well will never go out of style.
Finally, if you would like to visit Siren Oyster Bar & Restaurant for Thanksgiving, they are offering a curated, four course prix-fixe menu for $115 a person. Reservations are required and are available on Resy. Please see the restaurant website for more details.
For more reviews on Siren Oyster Bar – check it out on Yelp.
Three Best Bites
3. Winter in Brooklyn – beautifully frosty and crisp with a festive aroma.
2. Baby rack of lamb – tender, juicy, and topped with a devilishly minty chimichurri.
- Snow crab legs – you might come for the crab, but you’ll stay for the sauce.
There is only one restroom available. It is relatively clean when we arrive, and somewhat less so by the time we leave. It is fully equipped with soap, toilet paper, and paper towels, although the soap dispenser looks a bit wobbly.
Katherine Chin was raised in upstate New York and grew up with the mindset that good food can, and does, exist anywhere. Now living and working around Manhattan, she spends most of her breakfasts pondering what she’ll eat for dinner. She advocates for food that tastes good, and believes that sharing is caring – the best food is often eaten together. You can find her either walking or eating anywhere in Manhattan, when she’s not planning her next food-centric adventure.