It was time to go to London again. Escape the weekend in Brussels and spend a self-spoiling weekend in London. We planned this weekend way in advance. Hotel, places to visit, restaurants to eat at – everything to the (almost) last detail. As we’re literally addicts, be it to food, beer, or wine, it is not difficult to guess that we sometimes have very exact ideas of what and where we would like to eat.
One such place was the Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill.
The story so far
Very briefly: Richard Corrigan cooking on the Great British Menu. A pro vs punter review by Gregg Wallace on the Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill. Masterchef, and seeing Gregg every day – well you do the math. We were convinced. So what do normal people like us do? Book a table reasonably in advance and then wait.First impressions
I am not sure what my expectations were. I don’t think I had any. The photos on the website give you an idea, but places always look so different in reality.
The restaurant is quite tight and felt crammed at the entrance, but then opens up in the back. The famous oyster bar is on the ground floor, however our table was on the first floor where it looks very much like an old fashioned, elegant restaurant.
Busy, busy, busy. Good thing we booked! To my relief, the atmosphere was relaxed with people wearing from jeans to dressed up evening wear. As the restaurant is just around the corner from Piccadilly, no surprise to see such a mix of diners.
Here is where expectations and reality start disagreeing. The menu, a fine and reasonably high choice of starters, mains and desserts. The specials of the day were all around truffles.
First a wonderful basket of home made breads arrives. All delicious and very different to the usual choice of breads available. Delicious! After taking it all in for a while – no stress, nor pressure from the staff – I opted for: stuffed baby squid with chorizo and feta; lemon sole Normande; and the special dessert, home made ice cream with rhubarb.
My choice of food was based on ravings from Gregg Wallace in his olive review, and personal taste. After reading that the baby squid will melt in your mouth and will be unforgettable, I could not wait for this dish to arrive.
You have to understand: I love squid. I love chorizo. I love feta. What arrived though was nothing close to the melt-in-your-mouth memorable dish I was expecting. Granted, a very nice little dish but the feta was lost between the other flavours, and overall it all seemed a little mushy. Not too impressed.
My main course was ok’ish … The fish was a little soggy but that I assume came from the filling. And cucumbers are not my favourite, yet the fish was covered with them. But that is all down to personal taste. I did ask what the filling is, got an answer – wild mushrooms (well, girolles) – yet I am convinced those were not mushrooms as long as I live! A nice dish overall, not very much my style though.
Dessert – heaven! Nothing more I can add to this.
We also had some water and an unusual (recommended) bottle of wine which was a pleasure. You can imagine the bill was not a breeze, as it never is in places like these (somewhere around the 150GBP for two).
What I really don’t like though is that it seems accepted procedure in the UK to just ‘add a discretional 12.5%’ service fee. Is this legal? At all? I really don’t like being told to pay extra for service when how I feel about the service should be my choice entirely. Where do these 12.5% go to btw?
Service with a smile
Very much so. The maitre d’ was great and a real professional, the waiters as well, everyone knows their stuff (well except the filling – but that is forgivable, given it was the guy’s first day!) and they make you fell welcome, looked after without interfering, absolute perfection I have to admit.
Hmmm…difficult one. I know people rave about this restaurant, yet my expectations were probably too high for the overall impact. I will probably not go back to the actual restaurant, yet I would love to try the oyster bar. I think a simple selection of oysters with a glass of champagne, or a crisp white wine at the bar – pure perfection. And I am very much up for that.
Hungry for more?
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