Wednesday 11 November 2009

Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill, Mayfair (London)

Feeling like Charlie on the way to the Chocolate Factory, on Monday evening I had in my clutches a much coveted golden ticket to the fabulous Dine with Dos Hermanos event at Bentley's.

I skipped merrily along the streets of Mayfair, eagerly anticipating a night with other obsessed foodies and the renowned culinary prowess of Richard Corrigan's restaurant. Plus, Simon Majumdar, co-author of the brilliant Dos Hermandos blog with his brother Robin, had mentioned a substantial goody bag.... I have been known to bowl over small children at parties for a goody bag. This was not to be missed.

I joined the buzzing roomful at 7pm, and was welcomed by a glass of oyster stout hearty enough to put hairs on your chest. Beckoning nearby were a steady stream of luscious, freshly shucked native oysters. Enormous trays frolicked around the room, bursting with succulent giant prawns fried in the perfect amount of light, crispy batter. So far, so fabulous.

All in good time, we settled down for some serious feasting. Joining me at the table was a fantastic array of food lovers - the lovely TGS, aka Robin, from Dos Hermanos; food writer, Andrew Webb; Bibendum wine blogger, Dan; Tim Hayward, a gregarious food writer (and recent winner of the 2009 Guild of Food Writers Award for New Media) passionate about many food issues, but evidently none more than a sensational fish pie; Michael from Sydney with superlative taste in worldwide food and coffee haunts; fun loving foodies, Vicky and Pam; and a man of great literary inclinations, Ivan, who actually reads my blog (a rare trait indeed) and will even pretend to recall bits of it when bribed with alcohol.

Throughout the night, I also met many other terrific food obsessives, including Simon who did a first rate job of making sure odd balls like me had someone to talk to, and the faces behind some of my favourite food writing.

But the main event was the outstanding feast the kitchen had in store for us.

Bentley's Oyster Bar and Grill is a London institution which has been in the game since 1916 and was rejuvenated by the appointment of Richard Corrigan as head chef in the early 1990s - Richard now owns the restaurant and the kitchen is headed up by the talented Brendan Fyldes. The style is robust, down to earth, seasonal food.

First course was a platter containing a delicious bounty of smoked seafood (including salmon, tuna, eel and mackerel) as well as potted shrimp and pikelet sized blinis. Oh, how I love blinis. I think I went back for 5ths.

The main meal was the real conqueror. A huge pot, resplendent with tender cheeks of beef cooked in oyster stout, was placed ceremoniously in the centre of each table, with sides of creamy mash and roasted potatoes, parsnip and baby carrots. This alone was enough to feed a gourmet army.

However, the best was yet to come, in the form of two delectable fish pies. The fresh "meaty" chunks of salmon, haddock, prawns and scallops, steamily heart warming, were absolute gullet pamperers. Upon first bite, Tim emitted an involuntary great whoop of delight. I had never eaten fish pie this good.

Pudding was also a lip smacker. We shared 2 immense toffee puddings, rich and moist, with thick cream which I greedily drowned in as much toffee sauce as I could get away with while avoiding eviction.

Each dish was accompanied by a superb wine. I can't for the life of me remember the names (Bibendum Dan will be most displeased, if not surprised) but the Australian muscat style sticky was head rollingly good. [Postscript: I now know the wines were generously supplied by Nepenthe and Wines Unearthed.]

With a guest list that included some astute foodies, the chefs were clearly out to impress. However, the dazzle certainly worked on this simple scoffer. I'm quite desperate to return with The Peanut Gallery to sample more. Until then, I'll have to make do with trying to hide my enormous goody bag.

An outstanding meal and experience all round. It has certainly inspired many adjectives from me this evening, but then I'm trying to make do without food snaps (can't snap, must eat...). Thanks again, Dos Hermanos.

Bentley's Oyster Bar and Grill, 11-15 Swallow Street, Mayfair, London W1B 4DG

Bentley's on Urbanspoon


  1. had I known it was you there I would have said hello too. I read you as well!

  2. That sticky toffee pudding... oh my. I was sad to leave it behind. Lovely to meet you!

  3. Hi A Scot in London - it would have been terrific to meet you. I was actually telling someone that very night about your That Friday Feeling post (v funny!), but had no idea you were there! Next time...

    Hi Lizzie - Really lovely to meet you too! If only we had overcome the shame of it and asked for a doggy bag. That pud was amazing.

  4. Oh that sounds like a great place to eat! yum!

  5. Congrats on the foodie blogroll!

  6. Hello you. Glad you liked Bentleys, your review almost makes me tempted to give it a second chance. When I went I ate upstairs and the service was v snooty and the food and wine vastly overpriced (and this coming from someone who generally happily inhabits snooty overpriced restaurants....) But I trust your judgment so may return! Of course not liking fish or oysters may have put me at something of a disadvantage...

  7. Hi Simply Life - it was excellent - can't wait to go again!

    Thanks Pam!

    Hi Sarah - Hmmm... sounds like the chemistry was just not there for you and Bentley's. The aversion to fish and (shock, horror) oysters is a bit of a handicap, but the beef cheeks I tasted were also divine.

    Thanks for your comments everyone!


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