Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I always associate oysters with summertime. Maybe it’s because I love eating oysters outside by California’s Tomales Bay and enjoying them by the sea in England’s Whitstable. But in reality, and in the dead of winter, oysters can easily be enjoyed at any time of year. Like February. After a snowstorm. At The Oyster Shed, a new restaurant on the Thames in the City of London.
The Oyster Shed opened a few weeks ago and invited me and a guest to dinner on Monday. We arrived to find ourselves in a spacious bar and restaurant that was set over two stories with floor-to-ceiling windows offering what would have been sweeping views over the Thames had it not been dark outside.
Our table was upstairs on the mezzanine, and it overlooked the main bar area. The ambiance was intimate, with low light and candles. As we settled in, we each enjoyed an apple and elderflower martini from the bar. It was cool and refreshing, and just the right degree of sweet.
The martinis were followed by a bottle of Macon-Lugny “Les Genievres” 2010, Louis Latour from Burgundy. As I sipped, I looked over the menu and was startled to see that there were no oysters on it. What kind of restaurant calls itself The Oyster Shed and doesn’t serve oysters?
But then I saw them. Tucked away in a not-so-prominent position on the menu, there was one oyster option. I wished there had been more, but I didn’t hesitate to order a dozen of the Jersey rock oysters. I’m glad I did, too. They were simply served with a side of shallot vinegar, and they were fresh, clean, and delicious.
The oysters were followed by the special of the evening, which was sea bass on a bed of spinach and potatoes. The fish was fresh, and the accompanying vegetables were rich and hearty. There was a lot butter throughout the dish, but given my affinity for saturated fat, I wasn’t going to complain.
Speaking of all things healthy, dinner was followed by sticky toffee pudding. The large fluffy square of cake was served with a small pitcher of sauce. The combination tasted delicious. I wished the sauce-to-pudding ratio had been a bit more generous, but overall the dessert was great.
I left The Oyster Shed restaurant wanting to return in the summer, when I could sit outside at one of the tables on the terrace, enjoy the views across the Thames, and indulge in more oysters by the water. Until then, I will make do with oysters in February. And March. And probably June…