The Oyster Shed, 5 Angel Lane, London, EC4R 3AB
The Oyster Shed is big (not as big as The Folly) and has a similar vibe, both in decor and atmosphere, to the Drake & Morgan bar/restaurants (especially The Drift bar) although not quite as ‘polished’. It’s set over three floors – The Main Deck (bar area), The Upper Deck (restaurant) and, yes you’ve guessed it, The Lower Deck (more on this later!)
The first thing that we noticed as we sat down at our table on The Upper Deck balcony was the noise… A very loud mumble, a kind of mixture of chatting and laughing accompanied by the popping of numerous champagne corks. Saff and I call it ‘The Cityboy cacophony’. Not somewhere to go for a quiet meal and a chat, but fantastic for groups out for the evening… By the way The Oyster Shed stock an amazing range of wines – we opted for a very reasonable bottle of Merlot. Saff didn’t feel very relaxed up there as the floor moved slightly every time someone walked past and she was irrationally concerned that the whole thing would come crashing down.
Music ranged from Motown to Massive Attack, nothing too recent, kind of like an early noughties wedding disco – and that’s not a bad thing! But from where we were sitting the music sounded a tad muffled.
Returning to the food and Saff’s oysters… The table was simply set, we loved the Wee Willie Winkie candlestick holder and bottle of water was brought to us without it being asked for – more restaurants should do that. As I said earlier, I was really surprised when Saff suggested that we both try a Jersey rock oyster £1.75 each… I’ve eaten them before (most recently at Love Music, Love Food book launch) and quite like them. They were served, on ice, in a cute little dish with an onion and vinegar dressing – which tasted and looked just like teeny tiny pickled onions. We slurped them down (Saff’s face was a picture) whilst I hoped that their fabled aphrodisiac effects would take hold (they didn’t!).
To start we decided to share a couple of the ‘small plates’. Saff chose the Salt Cod Fritters £6.95, five little quenelle-shaped, shallow fried fish cakes with a fluffy potato and chunky cod centre, served with a light garlic and lemon mayo. The standout dish of the whole meal for me was the Pulled pork shoulder with spiced apple sauce £6.95. It was served in a cool little Kilner jar with a couple of charred slices of crusty bread. The actual pork was a perfect mix of moist tender meat with strands of the more well done ‘ends’ that added texture and a burnt flavour that I love. On top of this was a delicious, not too sweet, apple sauce. Spreading these on the bread was a novel way to eat it, the presentation was simple too. We’re definitely going to steal this idea the next time we have family and friends over for dinner.
The main course, or bigger plates as it says on the menu, is a choice of nine regular dishes, a fixed special for each day of the week and a ‘catch of the day’ (in this case pan-fried Sea Bass, £16.50). They also have a selection of salads, sandwiches and ‘Bar Boards’ – sharing platters that come in meat, fish and veggie varieties from £10.50. The Butchers board £13.50 with mini Yorkshire’s and roast beef, chipolatas, sausage rolls, spiced chicken and minted lamb sticks look good from where we sat.
I saw the fish and chips served to the table next to us, it looked good but I have the biased opinion that the chippy near our house (originally called ‘The Chippy‘) serves the best fish and chips in the world! Although Saff prefers the more crunchy variety from Kerbisher & Malt. I also caught a glimpse of the Rare breed burger, £10.95, it was massive and was held together by a steak knife thrust through its middle. So eventually I went for the Steak and Oyster Shed pie, £15.50, a puff pastry lid on a deep dish filled chock-a-block with chunky steak and, at a very quick count, about half a dozen oysters. The thick gravy was perfect to dip my side order of Skinny Fries £3 into. Saff went for the Wednesday daily special of Toad in the hole with onion gravy, £9.95. When it first turned up Saff looked a little disappointed with the size of the serving, but she needn’t have been. It was so rich and the sausages so plump and meaty that she couldn’t even finish it, her loss was my gain…
It was the second time in a week that I couldn’t have my first choice of dessert, the Treacle Tart with clotted cream here and the Peanut butter shortbread at The Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar. So my second pick was the Apple pie and custard, £6.50. It was more of a strudel than a pie but it tasted great with lots of cinnamon and a sweet yet crunchy apple filling. The only let down was the custard, it was really think and had a bitter aftertaste, I left most of it but luckily the pie was moist enough by itself. Saff’s Sticky toffee pudding with treacle sauce, £5.50, was a thick wedge of dense cake which was a lot more moist than it looked. Although Saff did add that it could have done with some custard (but maybe not the like that was served with my pie)!
All in all The Oyster Shed is an excellent addition to the already numerous Thames-side bars. The food is good (the pulled pork being the star of the show), the staff are great and the river views amazing! In fact the views of the Shard and Tower Bridge were incredible as we walked back to catch our train home. I even stumbled across a little stairway that led directly down to the river – I love it when we accidentally discover a ‘secret’ part of old London Town.
Oh, nearly forgot – the lower deck, only accessible by a very impatient lift, is entirely given over to… wait for it… have you guessed?… Yep, the toilets. Very nice they are too, a huge freeze on one wall of life-size semi naked female sunbathers and the cubicles that look like a row of brightly coloured beach huts. Genius!
Nearest tubes: Cannon Street and Monument tube station are both a 5 minute walk
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11.30-3pm 5.30-9.30pm