As you know, I’m an ostreophile. I love a good oyster (and, no, no chewing, just a push up against the roof of the mouth and a swallow, see earlier posts and please God, don’t cook them), so the opening of “The Oystermen” in Covent Garden just the week before our most recent visit to London put this squarely on the “hit list”.
The Oystermen is small, like the Smoking Goat (more of that superb place later), located on Henrietta St just beside Covent Garden Market. Small, as in, maybe 20ish covers? but perfectly formed. Simple, fresh, seafood, trendy, bearded owner and chief shucker. Not only am I a fan of oysters, I love a fresh boiled crab. I can dissect one with alarming alacrity, even if I do say so myself. Keep your boring, expensive lobsters and give me a good old fashioned brown crab. I was at home the moment we walked in.
I started with the oysters, (natch). Half a dozen, 2 of each type (the FWD can’t cope with the texture *rolls eyes* so she passed). Maldon Rock, Blackwater Wild (the huge ones – a test for even me, these, like swallowing a chicken breast whole….) and, my new absolute favourite, the small and sweet Kumamoto.
Shucked at the bar in front of us, these were so perfect, if it weren’t for the rest of the menu, I could have poured them down my throat all day. The menu advice, along with the usual “eat at your own risk” disclaimer, is not to drink spirits with oysters. Here we part company, vodka and oysters are a great pairing in my view, but I was sensible, nothing but the red wine and shallot dressing accompanied my oysters. The white wine came later.
FWD and I went with the smoked mackerel pate on grilled multigrain bread, this was so lovely, fresh with great textures. The FWH went with the scorched mackerel, pickled cucumbers and capers with salted citrus yoghurt.
I chose my whole Devon Brown Crab from the Board by weight. This was a supremely good, fresh crab. I know my crabs, let it be said. I can usually guess when it was caught within a few of hours accuracy, no word of a lie. My only disappointment was that it came partially already dismembered. This is probably a plus for most people, but not me, the act of wanton destruction and careful picking out of the sweet meat is a whole lot of the joy for me. Next time, I will tell them to just drop the bugger on the platter whole and leave me to it.
It was lovely though, and I am not much complaining.
The FWD went with the Coley Bap, Tartare Sauce, Pickles and Old Bay Fries and the FWH with the Curried Clam Chowder. All fabulous, all polished off.
The Oystermen had only been open a week when we visited so I can only assume it will go from strength to strength. I could have spent the entire afternoon in the company of their fantastic shellfish.
Well done, lads, fab place.
If you’re in Covent Garden Market, and especially if you are a fellow ostreophile make a beeline for the Oystermen.