This cool, dark, men's club-like atmosphere was punctuated with brightly colored oyster plates that ran around the restaurant on a plate rail at the perimeter of the paneling. There were almost 500 oyster plates up on that rail, many of them majolica. Front and center was a gorgeous turquoise Wedgwood fish platter.
That was almost 20 years ago.
The SSOH has since undergone two changes in ownership and bankruptcy proceedings. The current owners, descendants of the original owners, the Mink family, closed the restaurant in 2008 for an overhaul.
The new Oyster House, as it is now known, is now open and looks nothing like the old one. It is a clean, modern interior with a large raw bar front and center. The new emphasis is on the food as the old Surf-and-Turf has been updated with contemporary flair and a lighter touch. Add to this a young staff, a high quality cocktail bar, and an impressive wine list and the old relic is now ready to take on a new century.
One thing that hasn't changed though, are the oyster plates. The collection has been thinned down to 200 now but they still grace the walls of the restaurant in a new, more modern way.
I'll miss the old SSOH, but it's good to see those oyster plates back up on the wall where they belong.
Maybe they'll inspire a new generation of collectors like they inspired me.