Pearly Queen

Gold Award

SquareMeal Review of Pearly Queen

Gold Award

Shoreditch has slowly but surely become one of London’s leading restaurant destinations, so it seems only right that chef Tom Brown has moved in with this exceptional seafood restaurant. Offering a more relaxed and nostalgic vibe than his previous projects, Pearly Queen specialises in familiar flavours executed in ways you’ve never seen before.

Unlike his first haunt Cornerstone, the decor here is a little more novel. The restaurant is laced with oyster memorabilia - think pearl lights and oyster artwork - as well as purple neon lighting, and even a portrait of the man himself (although there's a good chance you'll see him in the kitchen too).

The menu offers luxury ingredients with a surprisingly modest price tag; expect oysters in various forms, caviar, and some of the best fish the UK has to offer. While we usually prefer oysters in their natural form, the crispy fried buffalo oysters with ranch dressing appear to be the exception to the rule. Reminiscent of crispy chicken wings, the crunchy snack is heavily doused in tangy buffalo sauce and a cool ranch dressing, adding further depth to an already knockout dish. How has nobody thought of this before?

Everything else is pretty faultless, from cured fish to scampi and BBQ monkfish which all demonstrate perfect seafood cookery. Vegetables, too, play a major role. A dish of hispi cabbage, for example, combines slightly bitter charring with sweet crab and an umami-rich miso sauce.

Desserts follow a less is more approach with just a few options. We opted for sticky toffee Madeleines with sea salt and clotted cream, which does what it says on the tin but with added finesse. Don't sleep on one of its signature cocktails - we can personally vouch for the ‘Cornerstone’ with whisky, rock salt, pepper and peat.

There’s no doubt that Pearly Queen deserves its royal title, and we’d head back in a heartbeat for the buffalo oysters alone.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cool, Cosy, Fun, Traditional
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Perfect for
Birthdays, Celebrations, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating


Michelin-starred chef Tom Brown opens his second East London venture with Pearly Queen, an oyster bar and restaurant located on Commercial Street in Shoreditch. Following up on his Michelin-starred restaurant Cornerstone just up the road in Hackney, this second project is all about fresh fish and seafood, inspired by the East End’s heritage of fish cookery.

The 60-cover dining room is split across two floors, with upstairs designed to mimic the feel of an East End boozer, boasting a bar with counter seating for guests to enjoy a drink at. While a smart dining room with banquet seating, secret cubbies and a late-night vibe can be expected on ground level. The interiors have been designed by AN-RD, an award-winning interior and furniture design studio, while artworks throughout the space are by London artist Reuben Dangoor, who you might recognise having been commissioned for the likes of TFL and Arsenal. Elsewhere, works by Olivia Rose can be found, who currently has pieces hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.

Pearly Queen is open for lunch and dinner and features a selection of crustaceans, sharing platters, small and large dishes. Guests can start their meal with UK-sourced oysters, along with rotating specials such as crispy buffalo oysters with ranch dressing. Elsewhere, shellfish platters featuring seaweed aioli and burnt tomato ketchup are served over ice, with customers able to select their preferred shellfish from the counter and see them being shucked by the skilled team. Small plates include cockle bhajis and prawn scotch eggs, while larger dishes include grilled lobster in an XO lobster butter sauce.

To drink, cocktails play a starring role. Max Venning has curated a special list featuring the likes of an OCS cocktail, mixing gin, olive oil, cucumber and lemon, and a Pearly Martini, combining vodka or gin, Picpoul and a pearl onion. These can be paired with a selection of snacks, such as shellfish hummus and tuna and parmesan gougères.


Do you need to book a table?

Yes, we advise that you book a table with us before visiting.

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44 Commercial Street, Shoreditch, London, E1 6LT

020 8161 0399 020 8161 0399


Opening Times

Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 12:00-15:00
Thu 12:00-15:00
Fri 12:00-15:00
Sat 12:00-15:00
Sun 12:00-16:00
Mon Closed
Tue 17:30-00:00
Wed 17:30-00:00
Thu 17:30-00:00
Fri 17:30-00:00
Sat 17:30-00:00
Sun Closed


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1 Review 


25 February 2024  
Food & Drink 5
Service 2.5
Atmosphere 4.5
Value 3
Delicious oysters/fish (albeit a little pricey) but please train your staff!

The food and ambience at the Pearly Queen was top notch. The buffalo oyster and tartare were high points, as was the decadent cuttlefish lasagna. The gurnard with orange was mind blowing, fresh yet moreish.

But here were the negatives (if they improve on this they’ll have a stellar restaurant):
• The dishes were very small for the price. The large dish (lasagna) was tiny, for £26 I wouldn’t say it was totally worth it despite being delicious.
• Young and undertrained staff. The staff were a bit abrasive, and when we asked for the bread to come with the starters, they looked confused. They said it came first and were bemused at the idea of this changing. The point of having the bread later was to mop up sauces from the dishes that we had ordered. They didn’t follow our request, which would have been very easy to amend. It’s bread, that can be served any time!
• The dessert was a real let down and how the staff handled it was very poor. I was excited for the sticky toffee madeleines. The madeleines themselves were light and airy but the toffee sauce was burnt. It was extremely bitter, the sugar for making the caramel had clearly been overdone. It was hard to eat. We mentioned this politely to the staff, asking if it was purposefully like this or whether it was burnt? They looked confused and just didn’t understand. They simply brought a new dessert (exactly the same and unchanged). They plonked it down wordlessly, really poor customer service. Clearly don’t have any understanding of what we meant or how this sauce could be burnt/bitter. They didn’t confer with the kitchen either, bit of a shame.
• While I LOVED the decorative touches (all with nods to the sea - mermaid handles, pearly details, oyster theme art), unfortunately a couple were style over substance. They had these teeny tiny water glasses, they looked cute but in terms of being useful they were a 0. We had no water jug for the table, they would top up our little vessels (giving true meaning to the word thimble). Paired with a naturally salty menu and very busy staff, I was left parched.

Apart from this I have no qualms. The dishes were delightful, the wine paired beautifully. I love Chef Tom Brown, if he addresses these snags it’ll be 10/10.

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020 8161 0399 020 8161 0399

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