September marks the start of Britain's native oyster season. Here we pick out some of our favourite spots in town to enjoy a platter of the briny bivalves, whether it's year-round rocks or natives you're after.
Mayfair - 11-15 Swallow St, London W1B 4DG (reopens 1 October)
Ever the classic oyster venue choice, Bentley's boasts that it shucks more oysters than any other London restaurant - around 1000 a day on busy days. Perch yourself at the original marble oyster bar and choose from wild natives and rocks. For the season they'll be serving three types of native oysters: West Mersea, Loch Ryan and Galway. If you want to get more serious, then book a spot at one of their regular oyster masterclasses on a Saturday.
Tom Conran's Westbourne Park Road gastropub has all the fripperies you could want from a place with such an obvious focus on beer and oysters. Match a creamy pint of Guinness with 6 rock oysters for a perfect night out. Oh and you might spot David Beckham having a pint in the corner as this is one of his locals.
Vauxhall - 3 Viaduct Gardens, Nine Elms, London SW11 7AY
Robin Gill's well-reviewed restaurant right beside the American embassy bills itself as an oyster bar first and foremost. This is a super spot for trying super fresh Irish oysters - right now it's Carlingford Loch that they're serving up.
Marylebone - 89 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4QW (Swallow Street opens 10 September)
As a fishmonger and a restaurant you can expect the haul at this boutique restaurant group to be super fresh and rock oysters are always on the menu here.
Delivery option: The FishWorks’ Oyster Box features a mixture of a dozen Jersey, Carlingford and Morecambe Bay oysters along with lemon, merlot shallot vinegar, and Tabasco plus a bottle of Fernão Pires white wine, a shucker and a link to a ‘How to Shuck an Oyster’ video tutorial. It's £60 and includes a £10 voucher to spend in the restaurant. Order online here.
Covent Garden - 28-32 St Martin's Ct, London WC2N 4AL
Right in the heart of the West End, you can always rely on Sheekey's to shuck a decent oysters or two. The oyster bar is closed at the moment, but head for the main restaurant (and its terrace) where there's a choice between Lindisfarne, Carlinford and Jersey oysters.
Notting Hill - 31 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2EU
Jackson Boxer's Notting Hill restaurant prides itself on its seafood - and their new oyster happy hour celebrates that with oysters at £1 a pop between 5 and 7pm, served up with elderflower Champagne mignonette and/or Sicilian mango and pomelo kosho.
Covent Garden - 32 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8NA
Friends Matt and Rob first came up with the idea for their seafood business when shucking oysters at Matt's wedding and their Covent Garden restaurant has doubled in size since opening. Right now, they're doing an Apple Market pop up champagne and oyster bar till the end of Sept (Wed-Sat) with a focus on Pol Roger. Otherwsie if you want to eat in, their oyster counter now has perspex screens up so you can still see everything being shucked in front of you. And they're still doing a range of cooked oysters including Tempura with Champagne aioli and smoked herring caviar.
Islington - 292 -294 St Paul's Rd, London N1 2LH
Prawn on the Lawn serves top notch oysters alongside its larger menu. That menu changes depending on the season, but there's usually Porthilly rocks on their which you can also have deep-fried with garlic creme fraiche.
Delivery option: There's a fishmongers section by the entrance if you just want to take the oysters home with you instead.
Soho - 14 - 16 Brewer St, London W1F 0SG
There's nothing quite like the classic platter at this Soho stalwart. Choose between English or Irish rocks. Enjoy them out on their new astroturfed terrace on Brewer Street or book their very cute private back garden if you want to dine both alfresco and in seclusion.
Chelsea - 174 Pavilion Rd, London SW1X 0AW
This Pavilion Road spot describes itself as a "chef-led fish shop, deli and seafood bar" - so you can buy oysters to take home and shuck yourself, or order them to enjoy up at the counter or out on their new terrace, dressed by chef Leandro Carreira.
Delivery option: Pick up/delivery on Slerp a dozen rock oysters
Photo; Helen Cathcart
Southwark - 14th Floor, 40 Blackfriars Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8NY
This rooftop restaurant features what they boast to be London's longest oyster list - it's an entirely separate menu. So if you're looking for briney delights from Menai, Gillardeau or Wexford then you've come to the right place.
The City - 39 Queen Victoria St, London EC4N 4SF (reopening September 2020)
The original Sweetings opened in Islington back in 1830 before eventually moving into Queen Victoria Street and it's been serving up shellfish to Londoners ever since. It helps to be living or working in the City to eat here - it's only open on weekdays for lunch.
St James (reopens 7 September)
One of London's oldest restaurants (it's older than the USA basically), you can pop yourself up at the oyster bar and order half a dozen Jersey Rocks or Loch Ryan natives. Alternatively you can have them done Rockefeller, Kilpatrick or Beau Brummell (chilli sauce and fried in breadcrumbs) style.
Soho, Borough, Spitalfields, Battersea Kensington
It's no surprise that the secret to a great spot to eat oysters is an impeccable source and the Wright Brothers' oysters are right up there. Right now, just Battersea & Borough Market are open. At the latter there's a wide selection including Ostra Regal from Bannow Bay and Morecambe Bay oyster.
Delivery option: For online delivery from their own shop choose from a dozen Jersey or Carlingford oysters - £16 for a dozen. The former are London-delivery only.
Other places to try oysters in London
Cornerstone (Hackney) - They're always doing something interesting with oysters at Tom Brown's Hackney restaurant. Right now choose between raw oyster with green tomato and seaweed salsa or a pickled oyster with celery, horseradish and dill.
Fish Market (Broadgate) - Set in one of the oldest surviving East India warehouses in the City, this laid-back restaurant features all manner of shellfish on its menu including Jersey Rocks and Carlingford.
Sutton and Sons (Stoke Newington and Islington) - This modern chipper offers one of the best oyster deals to be had in London - half a dozen Maldon oysters, freshly shucked for £8.95 (pictured above).
London Shell Co - If you're dining on their moored restaurant The Grand Duchess, there's a choice of Carlingford Loch oysters - either plain or with cucumber, horseradish and cider.
Chiltern Firehouse - You'll find Bobby Groves with his cart of oysters in the courytard at Chiltern Firehouse. And, if you want to read up on the briny bivalves, his book Oyster Isles is now out in paperback.
Bob's Lobster - although their main focus is, of course, lobster, oysters are also served at this London Bridge spot. Choose between raw or grilled with a chopotle and bourbon butter. They also run an oyster happy hour ever weekday between 4-5pm with £1 oysters when ou buy a glass or bottle of wine.
Brat: Everything is cooked over fire at this Shoreditch restaurant, including the oysters roasted with seaweed.
All prices correct as of September 2020.
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