Why am I smiling?
This place is one of those that just makes me happy.
I love great oysters, love a great cocktail,
and love when people take real pride in their craft.
That’s probably why I’m smiling.
Plumb Oyster Bar is all of that.
Positioned across Second Avenue from the center of the Clark House Hospitality empire,
in a building I’ve walked by many times without notice, is the fairly new Plumb Oyster Bar.
The Plumb building storefront has been left vacant for years, presumably waiting for this rebirth of downtown Troy.
The carved limestone entry is the perhaps the only lavish thing about the eponymous building.
The interior of the Plumb Oyster Bar was gutted and furnished in a very unassuming manner.
Simple, natural finishes and colors, adorn the space. It’s not quite as “raw” as some of the other young
Troy establishments, but not quite refined either.
It’s a space where you’ll feel comfortable enjoying a nice cocktail with friends.
The small space is fundamentally two bars; a smaller bar near the door for oyster display and shucking,
and a larger 3-sided, centrally located, alcohol-bar.
Food offerings at Plumb are fairly limited, but as of this posting a new Chef has been brought aboard,
maybe the focus will change.
I’m not sure I care.
I go for great oysters, and a fantastic cocktail (or two).
I don’t consider Plumb a restaurant, I consider it a great bar, with oysters and food.
Their menu doesn’t read like someplace you’d go for a full dinner.
There are “small plates”, like warm olives, cheeses, a Caprise-type salad, and a Brussel sprout dish.
They have a few $10+ grilled cheese sandwiches, and a few plates they call “Features”.
The “Features” seem to frequently change, perhaps for diversity or maybe it’s just some kitchen experimentation.
As I’m writing this, the menu lists a New England Style Clam Chowder, Oysters Rockefeller, Herb Seared Chicken, and a Mushroom Risotto.
They all sound wonderful, each under $20.
Don’t dismiss this place if you don’t enjoy oysters. There’s plenty to munch-on and plenty to drink.
I’m actually looking forward to seeing what the new Chef brings.
But as the name implies, I think it’s all about the oysters.
Every time I’ve visited Plumb they’ve had about 4 new varieties of oyster.
The oysters are displayed behind that first bar, on a rack in ice trays, priced per variety, usually about 2-3 dollars each.
Here’s where that guy behind the bar is indispensable.
Charles is my oyster-guy behind the bar.
By now Charles kinda knows what I like so he makes a few recommendations,
but he also teaches me about each oyster variety.
Where they’re from, the taste profile, and any distinguishing traits. There’s an infinite number of oyster brands out there.
I don’t even attempt to remember all the names of the oysters I’ve eaten.
I don’t need to, I know I have Charles.
My very own “Oyster Sommelier”.
Do you like an oyster with a high salinity? Do you like a big, mouthful of oyster, or something more delicate?
It’s more important to know your preferred flavor profile than to remember the brand, or name of each oyster.
Let Charles describe what he has available, tell him what you think you like, and also try a few that might stretch the boundaries of your preferences.
The oysters at Plumb are fresh, flavorful and served perfectly.
I recommend you try the first oyster of each variety naked, without any sauces, lemon, or embellishment.
But after you have a few naked oysters, give one of Charles’ mignonettes a try.
This guy is creating his own custom, killer mignonette sauces.
Before I met Charles I hated mignonettes, give me a little lemon or a bit of hot sauce.
But Charles isn’t serving the typical vinegar and shallot, slop I was used to.
He is CRAFTING flavorful sauces that pair beautifully with the delicate oysters he is meticulously shucking.
The second bar in the room (and the guy behind it) is the other reason I go to Plumb.
Jon is my guy behind the big-bar.
Jon is not a bartender…he’s a mixologist, he’s a craftsman.
This guy knows his booze.
He’s creating his own custom cocktails that are fun and delicious.
Like Charles, Jon is happy to share his deep knowledge, and passion.
My first time there Jon won me over with THE BEST DAMN Gibson I’ve EVER had.
A really good Gibson is hard to find; Jon impressed me.
(Technically it wasn’t a true Gibson but more of a Vesper, but it was awesome nonetheless.)
On my bourbon-centric visits Jon is quick with a great recommendation, and a HEAVY pour.
Every time I go to Plumb, I smile, and I leave happy.
Get there soon and say “hey” to the craftsmen manning those bars.
…..and tip ’em well.