The Shell French Seafood Restaurant

Fish, French·

SquareMeal Review of The Shell French Seafood Restaurant

It’s hard to miss The Shell, which lights up central London’s Southampton Row with its fluorescent blue signage, alerting passers-by to the extensive seafood offering inside. It does the trick too; during our lunch sitting several customers wander in spontaneously, happily chatting about their sudden fancy for seafood.

Once seated, the interiors are more formal than initially expected with sleek lines and rich brown tones, contrasted against mirrored wall inserts and a high-shine black glass ceiling. Every now and then the design nods to the restaurant’s nautical theme, most noticeably with the giant, red-hued crayfish which adorns the ceiling. It’s a novelty that gets a lot of attention and is an Instagram Story rite of passage for anyone who visits.

Looking through the menu will take a while, so we recommend getting your drinks order in quick to enjoy a tipple as you browse. There’s a long list of cocktails but give the lychee martini a try first – it’s The Shell’s speciality. When it comes to choosing your starter, take some advice from the restaurant’s passionate staff who heartily recommend one of the oyster platters. The fresh oysters are served simply with a squeeze of lemon and red wine shallot sauce, but if you’re in the mood for something extra decadent, give the gratin oysters a try which are baked in a rich, creamy cheese. Or, if you’d prefer to share a few small plates, the fried scallops have a satisfyingly crisp texture, while the dressed crab comes with homemade sauce.

There’s plenty of choice for main courses, but you can’t go to The Shell without trying one of their seafood platters. Peeking over our menus, we notice that nearly every table around us has one and not only do they look impressive, they’re also generous – so come hungry. There are both cold and hot options, but we settled on the Lobster Gratin Mix Platter for two, which offers a bit of everything. With scallops served on shells, a gratin oyster, gratin lobster, grilled prawns, langoustines and garlic wine mussels, it’s a fun way to try the menu’s highlights.

Our last piece of advice? Watch out for The Shell’s special offers which run throughout the week and offer the chance to try some of the restaurant’s most expensive dishes for less.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Fish, French
Eat at Home
Cool, Cosy, Fun, Lively
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Gluten-free options, Wheelchair access
Perfect for
Birthdays, Celebrations, Child friendly, Dates, Group dining [8+]
Food Hygiene Rating


Much has been said about British cuisine over the centuries, but if there's one thing this island nation knows, it's good seafood. There are more than a handful of great seafood restaurants in the capital, but many of them require you to dig into your savings in order to pay for a meal. The Shell was a restaurant born out of passion for good seafood, by two founders who wanted to create somewhere you could feast on a shellfish platter without having to inflict pain on your wallet.

Just a few minutes walk from Russell Square and the British Museum, The Shell has a prime location on Southampton Row that makes it easily accessible for anyone in central London. The restaurant interior is minimal but a little playful - the floor is a mixture of tile and wood, and mirrors on the walls give the restaurant a spacious feeling. The eye is drawn to a large model of a crustacean, which hangs from the ceiling. 

It's clear that the focus at The Shell is on delivering quality shellfish. The menu is straight-forward - aside from a smattering of other options (a steak, a burger, a vegetable soup) this is all about seafood. There are oysters by the half dozen, available au gratin or with red wine and shallot vinaigrette. Then, a huge variety of mixed shellfish platters that include crab, lobster, prawn, arctic shrimp, grey shrimp, whelks, winkles, langoustines, scallops and more. Platters are available cold or hot, and there are a few items available from the charcoal grill too, including sea bass, salmon, octopus and squid. 

Desserts are simple but effective - a chocolate brownie, a creme brulee and a scoop of ice cream. The wine list is compact but reasonably priced, and The Shell does a solid line in cocktails too.


124 Southampton Row, Holborn, London, WC1B 5AA

020 8075 7500 020 8075 7500


Opening Times

All day
Mon 12:00-23:00
Tue 12:00-23:00
Wed 12:00-23:00
Thu 12:00-23:00
Fri 12:00-23:00
Sat 12:00-23:00
Sun 12:00-22:00


Share your thoughts with other diners

Write a review

Book a table

Call The Shell French Seafood Restaurant to make a booking on:

020 8075 7500 020 8075 7500

Visit their website

Sorry, you cannot spend SquareMeal vouchers here yet.

Other restaurants we like near The Shell French Seafood Restaurant

Check availability