loti eats | oystermen
Oyster bars in the UK tend to fall into two categories: the cheap and cheerful seaside shacks in places like Mersea Island, and the iconic London restaurants such as Bentley’s and J Sheekey. There is a middle ground, however, a sweet spot that’s done very well in the USA at places like Maison Premiere in New York and Eventide in Portland, Maine. London now has its answer to that kind of place with Oystermen.
Having started small in Covent Garden, Oystermen is now thankfully a bit bigger thanks to them getting the next door premises and knocking the wall down. Here you can get oysters and pretty impeccable seafood in smart but relaxed unpretentious surroundings without emptying your wallet either.
Yes we are big fans of what Matt and Rob – the oystermen – have done here. Oysters all come from around the UK and instead of having a ridiculously big and bewildering list to choose from, they’ll generally just have three of the best varieties on offer each day. We love eating oysters both straight up and cooked, and it was with the latter where we immediately got an inkling as to their fun, creative approach.
There are two cooked versions, one covered in spicy buffalo sauce and the other deep fried in tempura batter and served with champagne aioli and smoked herring caviar. We loved them both. Don’t miss the dressed raw oysters too, which come in a yuzu sauce that would be good enough to drink on its own.
They’ve got more than oysters of course and the other must-order snacks and starters for us include the anchovy toast with confit garlic and lemon; the smoked mackerel; and the Portland crab thermidor. Mains were spot on too and we can definitely recommend the Newlyn hake with Cornish mussels, devilled mussel veloute and lovage Oil, and the braised cuttlefish orzo with braised onions, aioli and red butterfly sorrel, although come hungry if you get that last one as it is filling.
Oystermen is an absolutely fantastic little place and easily the best place to eat out around Covent Garden at the moment. Go check it out.
32 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8NA