Not too long ago I heard about Upstate, a craft beer and oyster bar frequented by locals in Manhattan’s East Village. Loving both craft beer and seafood, I knew we had to check it out. The restaurant is narrow and cozy. If you don’t get there early, you’ll likely have a wait, but it will definitely be worth it.
One of the things that Upstate is known for is their Happy Hour. For $12 dollars, you can get 6 oysters and a New York craft beer. Upstate carries a variety of oysters, based on what’s fresh and available on any given day. Not all of the oysters are part of the happy hour special, but we were able to try several varieties with our beer. They were all delicious, and expertly prepared. Upstate features New York craft beers, with a beer menu that changes weekly. There’s always something new to try (and there are wine options for those who don’t love beer).
Upstate is proud that they don’t have freezers in their kitchen, and no freezers mean that everything is fresh and the menu changes regularly to reflect what’s available and in-season. We tried the bay scallop ceviche, which was served with cherry tomatoes and microgreens. The ceviche was bright and refreshing.
For our main course, I had the linguine with clams. The dish was rich and satisfying, with a generous portion of steamed clams and a flavorful broth. My dining partner ordered the seafood cioppino. There were large portions of fish, sea scallops, mussels, clams, and head-on shrimp, all served in a tomato broth and beautifully prepared. The broth was delicious, and we sopped it up with the accompanying bread. Both dishes came in covered stainless steel bowls, and our server removed the lids after placing our food in front of us – it made for a great presentation, and the lids then served as a depository for our empty shells.
At the end of our meal, our server brought thin slices of whiskey cake, a moist, delicious end to our dinner. It was the perfect finish – not too sweet, but something I’d never had before. (I’d say it’s worth coming here for the whiskey cake alone!)
Want to check out Upstate yourself? The restaurant is located at 95 E. 1st Avenue in the East Village. If traveling by subway, you can take the F train to the 2nd Avenue station, or the 4 or 6 trains to Astor Place. If your a fan of street art, keep your eyes open as you walk from the station to the restaurant, as this is an area with a variety of painted murals.