A white-walled, wide-windowed restaurant on Covent Garden’s charming Henrietta Street, this feels like the kind of seafood place you might find washed up on a beach in Cornwall. A smart beach, mind: Oystermen is definitely rustic-chic. There are blackboards scrawled with (rather pricy) crab specials, a deep-blue ceiling and a menu that will tempt even the most dedicated fish-o-phobes into a flurry of patriotic ordering: Scottish mackerel, Devon crab... can you feel that bracing British sea breeze?
Oystermen is the first permanent restaurant from the successful oyster traders, so the bivalves are the speciality of course, and it’s doing rather inventive things with them. First up were decadent tempura oysters with champagne aioli and salty, fresh caviar. The hot buffalo oysters that followed were not so good. Oystermen: when you have something so pure and achingly delicious as an oyster, why would you drown it in what tastes like shop-bought hot sauce? Pickled shellfish salad was another example of death by over-saucing.
The meal was salvaged by sensational smoked cod roe and spicy deep-fried mussels. There was also a lovely ceviche. The quality of the fish at Oystermen really is superb – just avoid the dishes where things get saucy.