Sunday, 5 April 2009
Bentley's Oyster Bar
Bentley's Oyster Bar is up there with St. John - my two favourite restaurants in London.
Corrigan has the midas touch, and didn't miss a trick when he took on Bentley's in 2005. The relaxed atmosphere of the bar and banquettes lends itself perfectly to the not-so-delicate gustatory pleasure of eating oysters, and those I've tasted here are certainly the best I've had in London (please feel free to pipe up here). The accompaniments are no surprise: a bowl of finely diced shallots in red wine vinegar, Tabasco, and lemons wrapped in muslin. The breads are homemade, but where has the rich and treacly Irish soda bread gone? The rich, warm sweetness alongside the savoury sea-water hit was a match made in heaven.
I must confess to having once chosen a meat dish here for my main: a steak tartare. I rarely order this dish, as an off-the-mark tartare can put you off for life, but I had a feeling it would be a delight, and so it was. On a par with The Ivy's. You can't go wrong with fish pie: creamy, soft fish, light and buttery mash, and the epitome of comfort eating. Ultimate decadence has to be the half lobster with chips. Divine! On my last visit I had their bouillabaisse. I'm boring myself with this endless positivity now, but this was another hit. All it needed was a bowl of hot chips (which I had to order separately).
The service is enthusiastic, if just a little disorganised. The clientelle appear to be well-heeled locals and the odd tourist: not people who'll be tightening their purse strings in the slump.
Next on the list: Corrigan's Mayfair for the controversial red wine spaghetti. Farewell Lyndsay House, you'll be sorely missed.