The Headless Widow Has Ignited My Love for Oysters

2021, Apr 18

I arrived with a friend at The Headless Widow yesterday right around Happy Hour, where oysters were $1 a pop — with the requirement that you order a drink with your side of bivalves.

I hadn’t had a sip of alcohol since 2017, for various non-dramatic reasons — religion, taste preference, a general desire to be in control of my faculties. But here I was, 5 p.m. on Saturday and famished but for that morning’s breakfast sandwich + cookie + sticky bun combo, and suddenly forced into a devil’s bargain of drinking alcohol with my noshing!

My friend, also, was not in a drinking mood, but we were already seated in a cozy outdoor booth under the incubating glow of a heat lamp, and were resigned to see through our experience at The Headless Widow.

As the physically larger of our duo, I felt the weight of liquid responsibility falling on my shoulders. I ordered myself a Five Boroughs ale, as well as doubling-up the oyster order and adding a burger and fries.

The Headless Widow has a hip-macabre East Village vibe that is conducive to out-there conversations and strange loop thinking. Talk at our table honed in on NFTs and blockchains, cryptocurrencies and political conspiracies; all the while, I suppressed mildly-neurotic thoughts about what might happen when I finally consumed the beer.

Would I promptly vomit all over the table? Collapse off my chair in a drunken mess? Face-plant into the ice-tray of oysters? Get struck by lightning?

The food came not a moment too late, carried all in a bundle by our limber server. The oysters, plopped down at center-table, were beautifully-fresh and briny, made all the more crave-worthy with a dab of Tabasco and splash of mignonette sauce. I downed about four mollusks, paired with liberal laps of my light Five Boroughs ale, and felt that ol’ slipping of inhibitions creep in.

Beer and oysters; yeah, I could get down more often.

The burger, cooked medium, was thick, juicy and quite drippy; the bun held up admirably to the last bite. The meatiness of the sandwich was enhanced by a fat tomato ring, which packed a glutamate-heavy umami punch in its own right. The french fries were crispy, oily, thick-cut — all the qualities you would want in gastropub potatoes.

Between the beer, the oysters and the burger, I felt an unfamiliar sense of dignity while dining; perhaps I should work my cheat-meals around sit-down restaurants with company more often, rather than gobbling pizzas and ice cream pints on my couch.

Great food, great service, great creepy name; The Headless Widow pushed my comfort zone slightly, but ultimately landed on a hit. The gastropub is a strong option for quality seasonal fare in the East Village, and earns a 4.25 out of 5 rating on the NYC Diary scale.

It was also probably the best time I’ve ever had being forced to drink, outside of certain collegiate initiation rites; but those didn’t come with oysters.

Until next time.