Test Driving Thirty7 - The Oystermen's affordable neighbourhood bistro in Covent Garden

This is what you're looking for. Right next to 38. 

What can you tell us about Thirty7?

This is the latest opening from the Oystermen (Matt Lovell & Rob Hampton), which they're describing as a neighbourhood restaurant and bar (although right in the middle of Covent Garden).  Unlike the very seafood-centric Oystermen restaurant, this is more of a casual bistro, with a few American accents in there too. 

Where is it?

This is not the first time The Oystermen have opened another restaurant, having previously launched the (now closed) Walter's in West Dulwich. This time, they've stuck to an area that they know well. It's literally just around the corner from their OG restaurant. Covent Garden station is the easiest tube to take there. 

They've taken over from what was previously a relatively unassuming Holland & Barrett and have lucked in with a pretty fantastic space. Stripping back all the paint has revealed the original brickwork underneath and there's an expansive basement which has been turned into a bar. 

roomLooking into Thirty7

Where should we go for a drink first? 

If you're meeting nearby, The Lady of the Grapes wine bar is a good bet, or you can go for a place that's a combination of high-end and old-school with the bar at Rules, just around the corner.

But frankly, we'd say the bar here at Thirty7 is a really good space. Head towards the stairs at the back of the restaurant to pop down to the smartly laid out subterranean bar, which is extremely relaxed. It's a great option for a quick drink in the area all by itself and both the cocktails we had were excellent and notably well-made. 

roomBoth of these cocktails were excellent. On the left, a perfectly balanced Tommy's margarita (£12) and on the right is a Mezcal Paloma (£13). That's not bad cocktail pricing for central London, either. 

Where should we sit?

If you look at the photo above, pretty much anywhere in there is good. If showcases that there's a good space for a larger group and both those booths are a decent size as well. If you're just stopping by for a snack and a glass of wine or two, the window seats are also pretty great. You've lots of good options here. 

What can we expect from the menu?

As mentioned earlier, the menu here sees a little shift from The Oystermen in that it's a move away (at least partly) from seafood. But that said, there are some similarities. Their other restaurant, outside of the oysters, has a strong menu of dishes and snacks that are all extremely well done. Things are the same here - it may not have as much seafood but there's a really good bistro menu here that delivers.

In charge of the food is chef Grant Clark who has used his New York experience (Hearth and The Breslin) to add a little welcome heat to the menu. To give you a taste of what's on offer - here's what we had on our visit:

roomCheddar beignets with brown crab mayo (£7) - order these immediately. The brown crab mayo is an added bonus. 

roomSourdough bread, butter, confit garlic (£5) - we don't normally go for the bread that much, but the confit garlic swayed us here. Well worth the carbs. 

roomDorset crab cakes, tartar sauce (£15) - a very moreish snack

roomOnion & bone marrow soup, parmesan crouton (£12) - We've seen onion soup appear on quite a few menus of late. This version hits you with the deep aroma of bone marrow the instant it lands in front of you. 

roomHake, clam, chorizo, tomato & fregula (£28)

roomRoasted pork belly, bramley apple sauce, creamed hispi cabbage (£23) - the kind of crackling we always aim for but can never achieve at home. 

And are there oysters?

You couldn't really have a restaurant by The Oystermen without them...

roomHalf dozen Louët-Feisser oysters on the half shell with an American cocktail sauce, mignonette (£21) - The cocktail sauce on these is a really nice touch. 

What's it like on the vegetarian side of things?

While the menu is stronger on the pescetarian side, there are options here. You could have the beignets with normal mayo for example, or you could leave out the bacon on the wedge salad. There are also specific vegetarian dishes like a roasted cauliflower with herb salad and dukkah (£17). 

And how about dessert?

We might have overdone it a little by this point so we just had room for the below, but a baked cheesecake with rhubarb is on offer too. 

roomChocolate budino, chantilly, hazelnut (£8) - a light way to finish. 

And what about drink?

As well as the cocktails, they have their own lager in a short list of beers and, as with the Oystermen restaurant, there's a pretty impressive wine list. Prices start at an almost unheard-of in central London £25 a bottle for a 2022 Verdejo, with eight bottles priced at £40 and below, heading upwards to the £120 mark. We had a Meerlust 2022 Chardonnay from Stellenbosch (£60) which was a pretty good fit for the meal. 

Overall thoughts 

We think there's plenty of room for a proper classic bistro in Covent Garden, and this really delivers, also offering decent value. If you're going out with someone who's a little fussy about their food, but you want to take them somewhere that's very good as well as mid-range - this is a good bet. And that's harder to find around here than you might think. It's a welcoming room, the food's good and the drinks are great. We think this will become something of a sleeper hit for them. 


More about Thirty7

Where is it? 37 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9EN

How to book: Book online

Find out moreVisit their website or follow them on Instagram @thirty7bedfordstreet

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Thirty7. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 


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