The old saying goes that you should only eat native oysters in months with an ‘r’, although you can eat rock oyster all year round. Begin your search for the jewel of London’s oyster scene with our handy guide.
Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, Mayfair
Pearl of wisdom: Oysters are expertly shucked by long-serving staff who have a genuine passion for what they’re serving at this 101-year-old Richard Corrigan restaurant. Galway, Lock Ryan and West Mersea natives are currently on offer, or dip your toe in the water with a garlic-baked rock oyster.
Where: 11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG
How much: West Mersea natives, £4.15 each
Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone
Pearl of wisdom: The courtyard at Chiltz is the easiest way to score a walk-in table at the celebrity mecca and the presence of an oyster cart, manned by oyster expert Bobby Groves, only adds to the breezy appeal. Groves intends always to have three native oysters available until the end of the season in April.
Where: 1 Chiltern Street, W1U 7PA
How much: Native oysters from £4 each
Hix Oyster & Chop House, Farringdon
Pearl of wisdom: As a Dorset native himself, it’s not surprising that British food champion Mark Hix is a fan of native oysters. Partner your bivalve with a bottle of Hix Oyster Ale. On Saturday 16 September, Hix is holding his first annual oyster celebration, with guest chefs and oyster experts on hand for a series of talks, tastings and drink matchings.
Where: 36-37 Greenhill Rents, EC1M 6BN
How much: Loch Ryan natives, £4.25 each
J Sheekey Atlantic Bar, Covent Garden
Pearl of wisdom: Arguably London’s most famous fish restaurant, J Sheekey is a reliable spot to see London’s most famous faces from the West End stage. A plate of mixed oysters with spicy sausage (from £19.50) makes a good introduction to oysters. And who says oysters need to be expensive? Here you can have six Jersey pearls with a glass of Champagne for £19.75.
Where: 33-34 St Martin’s Court, WC2N 4AL
How much: West Mersea natives, £4 each
The Oystermen, Covent Garden
Pearl of wisdom: Opened in July, this oyster specialist has really hit its stride with the arrival of native season. From 3-5pm, seven days a week, you can drop in for native oyster happy hour: six oysters and a glass of Crémant de Bourgogne for £20.
Where: 32 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8NA
How much: Loch Ryan natives, £3.80 each
Randall & Aubin, Soho
Pearl of wisdom: Established in 1996, Brewer Street’s seafood mainstay is classic Soho: cool, relaxed, a tad cramped and buzzing with life. Seafood fans will appreciate the overflowing displays of shellfish on ice, while a dedicated oyster menu is supported by Randall & Aubin Champagne by the glass (£12).
Where: 16 Brewer Street, W1F 0SQ
How much: 6 native oysters, £22
Pearl of wisdom: A sparkling crustacea bar glistening with fresh produce forms the seafood altar at the centre of celebrity hangout Scott’s. Chef-favourite Loch Ryan natives are currently on the menu, or try a fried oyster with spiced avocado cream.
Where: 20 Mount Street, W1K 2HE
How much: 6 Lock Ryan natives, £26
Wiltons, St James’s
Pearl of wisdom: Wilton’s received its first royal warrant to supply Queen Victoria with oysters in 1868 – and if it’s good enough for the royal family, it’s good enough for us. Learn all about oysters with an oyster masterclass (£65) on the first Monday of the month.
Where: 55 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LX
How much: 6 West Mersea natives, £24
Wright Brothers, Spitalfields
Pearl of wisdom: With its striking marble oyster bar at the centre, this Wright Brothers branch sets expectations swimmingly high. The native oysters are top-notch, but our favourite thing to eat here is the smoked Carlingford Lough rock oyster, served with crackers and horseradish cream.
Where: 8a Lamb Street, E1 6EA
How much: 3 Jersey Rocks, £8.50