BY PALOMA LACY AND BILL LACY
When we arrived at The Oyster Shed, the place was thronging.
There really is nothing like sunny afternoons watching the world go by as you gaze upon the magnificent River Thames and surrounding landmarks, like the Tower of London and the Shard, while riverboats traverse by the lapping water.
The crowd thinned out within an hour as the sun disappeared – clearly this is a place for a brief post-work drink before heading home.
It felt a bit like walking into a management consultant’s office party, but there were a range of punters, tourists and foodies too.
London boasts some superb riverside pubs – some of them justly famous – and The Oyster Shed deserves its place among the finest.
The enviable waterside location is of course the main draw here, but the pub is impressive in its own right, a modern, airy and stylish setting.
It has a nautical theme going on, although fairly light-touch – with areas such as the Pier and the Stern – each with their own individualistic feel.
Not immediately recognisable as a Young’s pub, the Young’s Original on cask gave it away, along with the other choices peculiar to Young’s, such as Young Sun, a fine pale brewed by Beavertown Brewery exclusively for Young’s.
Though a large and spacious pub, ideal for groups and party bookings, in that hour before dusk, it did feel like a competition for the toilets.
No cosy fireplaces here, but this is one of the most memorable modern London pubs visited in recent times.
In an area where there are a few decent watering holes, still stands out.
The splendid restaurant is located on the first floor, affording diners a magical river views.
In November 2021, previous MasterChef winner, Natalie Coleman joined as head chef, bringing with her heaps of seriously good kitchen experience from establishments owned by the likes of Michael Roux Jnr, Marcus Wareing and Tom Kerridge and it shows.
The focus on fish is inevitable, but with one of us not a lover of oysters, one dish screamed out from the menu: “Pick me!”
We couldn’t resist the seafood platter – six dressed oysters, keeping one oyster lover extremely happy, dressed Cornish crab, Scottish langoustines, cured salmon, Fowey mussels, Cornish clams, sourdough, seaweed butter.
This is ‘last meal on earth’ territory – classic and simple, with the added protein-packed bonus, it’s lower on calories than so many of the other main courses.
The oysters were well received, as was the crab. Its brown meat was blended into mayonnaise to create the finest pate imaginable, packed into a crab shell, and topped with white meat.
Spread upon soda bread, this is food of the Gods for sure. Time to issue a warning: order this and nothing else.
We couldn’t finish the platter but perhaps because we ordered starters. There is a valid reason for this. We wanted to see what Ms Coleman was capable of and couldn’t leave it at a main that didn’t require a huge amount of cooking.
Yuzu cured salmon, with watermelon, daikon and wasabi was executed in a suitably cheffy way and had the MasterChef stamp on it.
A round of applause for the chef was richly deserved.
The salmon that was cured to the point of appearing cooked, giving it an extremely pleasing but almost smoky bacon–like taste. I know what you’re all thinking, “what’s a daikon?” Winter radish, also known as mooli – a name many are more used to.
Fish haters needn’t fear – with starters like lamb Scotch egg, with wild garlic mayo, certainly sounds tasty, if you can get over the fact that it has nearly as many calories as the whole seafood platter.
On a side note, placing calories next to dishes is a welcome addition, encouraging restraint, something that’s needed for regular restaurant goers like us.
There are more veggie starters than mains – burrata, leek and potato soup and tempura courgette flower, filled with smoked cheese and served with gremolata.
And just one veggie main – miso roasted aubergine – seems a bit of an oversight. Although, there are plenty of suitable side dishes that fit the bill.
THE OYSTER SHED 1 Angel Lane, EC4R 3AB website: www.oystershed.co.uk