I finally made it to the Pearl Oyser bar on Cornelia street in the west village. It was fantastic! My friend and I unwittingly showed up 10 minutes before it opened and there was already a line which by opening time would fill the small restaurant. It' a small operation with a limited menu and a lot of specials so that everything is super fresh. Between the two of us we had the smoked bacon clam chowder, fried oysters, salt baked shrimp and a delicious bouillabaisse with a lobster broth. The fried oysters came each in a shell on a pillow of homemade tartar sauce. Judging by the lobster rolls flying out of the kitchen, it is one of the old favorites though we didn't try it.
The place is very small. I think it only has one or two tables. The majority sit at the bar or at the counter along the wall, but since nobody is standing around you don't feel too cramped. Unfortunately, the staff is too busy to chat but for the most part one is too busy eating.