2006_3_GothamOysterBar.jpgThis time of year when the wind chill often makes walking the streets an onerous prospect, we at Gothamist tend to wimp out a bit. We transform into mole people and duck underground, devising new routes that involve as little of the freezing cold as possible. There are some nice surprises to be found along the way though. Take for instance the to-go window at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station. (It opens on to the ramp that leads down to the main dining concourse on the lower level.) Stop by any weekday around lunchtime, and you can sample from an abbreviated version of the grand old restaurant’s colossal seafood menu.

To warm up, we recommend the New England Clam Chowder. A study in white, this version doesn’t veer from the essentials: rich cream, chunky potatoes, and fresh, tender clams. It’s thick enough to stand up to the Heinz test; a spoon will not dare sink when left on top. Or, if you want to assert your civic pride, go for the Manhattan Clam Chowder. Not quite as thick, this is of course distinguished by the addition of tomatoes. Celery and carrot also come in, along with fresh thyme leaves—all of which lend a minestrone-like quality. Each soup comes with a bag of crisp oyster crackers, and opening them still feels like a little treat the way it did when we were kids. Each is under seven dollars, a lot for soup, but not bad for fresh seafood. These little pots of warmth provide plenty of fuel for a quick winter meal and plenty of reason to stay underground.