On a Friday night you turn to your friend, lover, or the nearest mirror, and say ‘fuck it, let’s go for oysters’. Did you just get shivers? We did.
Whether you go to a great little seafood spot or a big-bill classic establishment, there are truly few things that feel as luxurious or celebratory as going out for oysters. Throw in some champagne, and you’ve got one of the most formidable date night combinations of all time. But when it comes to raw molluscs, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. That’s where this guide comes in. These are the London spots that are perfect for an excellent round of oysters.
If you like your oysters with a side of ‘check out that view’, then you’re going to be really into Seabird. That said, it could be easy to dismiss this very pink, bougie restaurant at South Bank as another rooftop cocktail bar masquerading as an overpriced restaurant. It isn’t. In fact, it’s the best oyster experience we’ve had in London. Not only do they have a big, excellent selection, but the staff are more than happy to guide you through your options with zero judgment and plenty of expert intel. Come here for dates, with mates, or for a big-deal business dinner - you’ll have a great time, and those views really don’t hurt either.
How to describe a Morecambe Bay oyster? Imagine Ryan Gosling’s tears with just a subtle hint of unicorn milk and you’re on the right lines. Basically, it’s the perfect oyster if you’re into a more melty, soft situation over a big hit of sea-salt. We first discovered our love for this particular oyster at seafood mini-chain, Wright Brothers. There’s zero of that ‘what do you mean you don’t know the difference between Menai rocks and Loch Ryan natives’ side eye here, just useful, straightforward seafood. They have spots in Borough Market, Spitalfields, and Soho, but our favourite is the Battersea branch for the excellent river views.
Right, you are going for oysters and you are not messing around. You’re going to wear something that - from very, very far away - looks like it’s Chanel. You’re going to drink an alarming amount of champagne. Most importantly, you’re going to document it all on social media so that everyone is super jealous. When you want all of the above, we’d recommend elegant Covent Garden spot, J Sheekey. Its moody, glamorous horseshoe bar is just the place when you want to feel like some exceedingly charismatic heir who just happened to be in the mood for molluscs. Be warned, it’s pricey.
Well & Bucket
If you’re someone that finds the idea of eating oysters a bit intimidating, we get it. Do you chew? Why do people keep talking about dressed oysters? It’s a mollusc, what are they even wearing? Before you spiral into aphrodisiac panic, know two things. One: Referring to them as Sexy Salties makes them much less intimidating. Two: The Well & Bucket is a neighbourhood pub in Shoreditch that does half-a-dozen Morecambe Bay oysters for £14 with none of that pretentious silliness going on. More oysters, less panic. Perfect.
Parsons is the West End equivalent of the wardrobe that leads to Narnia. No, we haven’t started on the bubbly early, just hear us out. This tiny restaurant in the middle of Covent Garden is the kind of place you could walk past countless times and not realise that there are magical things like oysters and lobster mash hiding inside. It’s a simple, classy setup, but the window seats are where you want to be for an oyster-fuelled date night.
Calling Scott’s an affordable restaurant would be like calling Gemma Collins shy. It’s just not true. Before you email us, please know that we very much worship at the altar of GC hilarity, we wouldn’t have her any other way. And honestly, we wouldn’t change Scott’s either. Every city needs a seriously expensive seafood spot to trot out for anniversaries and big-deal birthdays, and this is ours. To do Scott’s properly, book a table out on their terrace, order some Dom, and be prepared to spend the big bucks.
There are old school seafood restaurants and then there’s Sweeting’s - they’ve been serving oysters here for over a century. That's almost as long as we’ve been telling ourselves we’ll open a savings account, but as ever this City spot is a strictly weekday lunchtime affair. You’ll undoubtedly see fish on ice in the window and office workers on their second Guiness inside, however, heads up, they only serve two types of oyster here, so while it might not be the best bet if you want variety, it’s still a classic London dining experience.
Randall & Aubin
Contrary to what Gloria Gaynor might think, it is entirely possible to have fun without the presence of a disco ball. But they do help. Soho institution Randall & Aubin not only has a disco ball in their dining room but they’re also one of London’s go-to oyster spots. You can’t go wrong with their selection, but know that if you’re rolling with a group it’s worth getting involved in their Plat de Fruits de Mer. It includes everything from rock oysters and whole dressed crab, to an optional half lobster.
Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill
Referring to your oyster shuckers as ‘more chilled than a dozen of Loch Ryan’s finest’ could raise eyebrows in some circles. But as people who refer to themselves as ‘athletes’ every time they manage more than 80 steps per day, we salute Bentley’s pride in their oyster serving skills. A classic West End seafood restaurant with a big heated terrace, it’s a great place to sip champagne over a dozen oysters. And even if their mains can be a little hit or miss, the Rockefeller dressed oysters are always a good call.
Few things are as fabulous as an oyster cart. It’s a matter of luxury meets laziness, and what’s better than that? It should come as no surprise that The Chiltern Firehouse, a popular celebrity hangout, has an oyster cart. Yes, you might run into half the BAFTA nominees on your way to the bathroom, but more importantly this place is serving Carlingford oysters from the Louet-Feisser farms in Ireland. If we just said a whole bunch of words that don’t make sense, don’t worry, just know that this oyster is meaty, a tiny bit bitter, and one of our all-time favourites. Plus, there are plenty of other options to try.