Once it was the food of the common people, then only kings and aristocrats, but now the tables have turned once more, and oysters are back in vogue with us plebs. Not that that means we should eat anything less than the very best.
Native oysters, harvested from British and Irish shores, are at their best when there’s an ‘r’ in the month, which means they’re good to go from now until April. Here are our favourite places to indulge in some shucking good seafood.
Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill
When Bentley’s opened 101 years ago, oysters really were food for the common people, and over the decades, it’s witnessed the changing vogue. Irish chef Richard Corrigan has been at the helm since 2005 and celebrates the Return of the Native every year with oysters from Dorset, Jersey, Achill and Mersea, washed down with a glass of champagne. bentleys.org
After a stint of roaming London’s street food markets and collaborating with various craft breweries to pair oysters with beer, The Oystermen – Rob Hampton and Matt Lovell – have set up shop in Covent Garden to serve rock and native oysters, fresh fish and seafood dishes. The new kids on the block, if you pop by between 3pm and 5pm in the afternoon you’ll catch happy hour: six rocks and a glass of Crémant de Bourgogne for £10, or six native oysters and a glass of the same for £20. oystermen.co.uk
The grand dame of London’s oyster houses, Wiltons celebrates 275 years this year of shucking the best for the best – the restaurant has six warrants to keep the royal households stocked up with exclusive shellfish. From the start of October they’re running a monthly oyster masterclass, so you can learn how to prep and serve your own. wiltons.co.uk
Hix Oyster & Chop House
The clue’s in the name. The Farringdon outpost of Chef Mark Hix’s empire is dedicated to oysters and steaks and will be celebrating the native oyster season with a big do on September 16. Oyster experts like Wright Brothers’ Robin Hancock and Tom Brown from Outlaw’s at The Capital, will be on hand to talk you through oyster terroir as you swig a pint of Palmer’s HIX Oyster Ale. hixrestaurants.co.uk
With four London restaurants to their name, brothers-in-law Ben and Robin, the brains behind the outfit, set out to make oysters less elitist and more accessible, without compromising on the quality and sustainability of their produce. Since they opened their first restaurant in Borough in 2005 they’ve shaken up the norm, bringing contemporary flair to an otherwise exclusive scene. thewrightbrothers.co.uk