I was first introduced to The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen back in September 2017 when Pongrácz Sparkling Wine launched a rebrand paired with oysters at the Henrietta Street restaurant.
Since then, the restaurant has expanded, and I’m delighted to report that they have now reopened as things begin to ease following the mandated lockdown across the UK back in March.
As part of the new social distancing, safety and hygiene rules, the Oystermen now have an alfresco dining area which seats up to 16 people in the new car-free Henrietta Street. This helps to compensate for the reduced seating capacity inside, from 47 covers to 28.
The warmer weather will hopefully inspire more people to emerge from their homes and venture out to eat and meet with friends they have perhaps not seen for many months, and what could be better than enjoying some fresh oysters and sipping on a glass of chilled wine outside in Covent Garden!
The Oystermen summer menu offers some lighter new starters such as bream ceviche, offered alongside old favourites like their delicious hot tempura oysters. Main courses include fresh day-boat fish offerings and a renewed focus on local shellfish, with grilled native lobsters and whole Dorset crabs if you really want to treat yourself.
Now behind screens, the raw and oyster bar still takes centre stage in the restaurant, with its distinctive boat hull exterior constructed specially by master shipwright Giles Thaxton of Made By Giles. You will find a wonderful selection of freshly shucked oysters sourced from the shores of the UK and Ireland, as well as whole crabs at the chilled bar.
Equally important is the Oystermen wine list, which is now a little more concise and offers classic seafood pairings and wildcards available by the glass.
A few words on the history of the Oystermen, as I love the concept behind the restaurant. Matt Lovell and Rob Hampton are “the Oystermen” and seasoned restaurant professionals who met in 2013 and straightaway bonded over their shared love of fresh oysters and good hospitality. They therefore took the leap in 2016 and founded The Oystermen, initially to host first-class oyster bars at weddings and events but with the long-term goal of opening their very own restaurant so they could showcase the finest and freshest oysters and seafood from all corners of the British Isles. They were then able to expand the size of their Henrietta Street restaurant and both Matt and Rob actually carried out much of the refurbishment to follow government guidelines themselves, making sure that the changes were as sustainable and sympathetic to the original design as possible while maintaining the restaurant’s much-loved cosy ambience. Nearly all the materials you see in the restaurant have been salvaged and upcycled.
Oyster & Champagne Pop-Up Bar in Apple Market
From Wednesday 29th July to Saturday 1st August 2020, the Oystermen, in collaboration with Pol Roger, will be running a pop-up champagne and oyster bar just a stone’s throw away from the restaurant, in the heart of Covent Garden’s historic Apple Market. You will find Matt and Rob shucking oysters from 3:00pm to 10:00pm and serving a range of wines and champagnes, with a focus on wines from Pol Roger’s fabulous portfolio. Although the weather forecast is looking good, there is covered outdoor seating available in the stalls of the original market.
The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen, 32 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8NA, England.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7240 4417
You will find The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen in the heart of Covent Garden in a now traffic-free Henrietta Street. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday from midday to 10:00pm (kitchen closed between 3:00pm to 5:00pm but the raw bar is open throughout). Sunday from midday to 9:00pm.
Type of Restaurant: Seafood Bar and Restaurant
Price Range: Medium
Insider Tip: Try and sit outside and enjoy an alfresco dining experience overlooking a vibrant Covent Garden.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen