A little while ago, I was treated to oysters, ceviche, and sundry other fishy treats at the Oyster Shed. Thoroughly spoiled, I ran (staggered) home afterwards, tummy fat, fully intending to record my enthusings over the delightful evening at length immediately upon arrival.
Sadly, due in no small part to the soporific (and delicious) combination of scallops, pork belly and cauliflower puree on which I had gorged, I passed out en route to my laptop. By the time I awoke Christmas was underway, and it hardly seemed fair to bury my appraisal of this establishment amidst the seasonal deluge of mince pies and boring charity singles.
So, belatedly, to the Shed. I’d infiltrated a small group of foodies who were privy to an evening spent inside the Captain’s Table- a hidden dining room which like the main bar and restaurant, overlooks the Thames. Reflected lights sparkled in the inky water a stone’s throw from our window.
The Shed’s head chef, Mark, was on hand to give us freeloading hacks a thorough and informative demonstration of the correct way to fillet sea bass, among other necessary life skills (no sarcasm). Handy tip: Flat fish loses 50% of its body during preparation, and round fish 60%. Use this ‘waste’ for stock. Mark deftly parted said bass from its spine as we watched, mouths full of rich, silky, smoked salmon and trout which was laid out on platters to sustain us. Also important- serve fillets skin side up. It’s prettier.
We munched on translucent haddock and cod ceviche while Mark explained that scallop shells must be closed, or close when tapped, if you are to eat them without fear of stomach upset. He also reassured us that all the fish eaten at the Shed comes from reliably sustainable sources.
Then to the serious business of oyster shucking. While his audience (myself probably included, I can’t remember) muttered ‘hilarious’ witticisms along the lines of ‘shucking good evening’/’they look shucking delicious’/’nothing like a good shucking’, Mark freed one slippery, salty crustacean after another. He remarked as he did so that he had 15 scars on his hands, all from shucking. We nodded seriously, and by now rather tipsy on free champagne and wine, some of us had a go at shucking ourselves. I delivered mine messily, fingers briny as I tipped it back into my mouth. It tasted reasonable- certainly fresh, at least. I had another, then turned my attention to a table behind us now groaning with other ‘nibbles’. Mini fish and chips and burgers were both standard ‘fun’ party fare, but satisfying enough. Pork belly and scallops were accompanied by cauliflower puree, which was delightful. After that my memory becomes hazy. Freelancer turned freeloader, and I stuffed myself until I could stuff no more.
I’m reassured that Oyster Shed menu is seasonal- ‘specials are special’. However I’m pretty confident that staples such as oysters, ceviche and scallops will still be in evidence if you should find yourself there in the near future. Which wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
5 Angel Lane London EC4R 3AB, 020 7256 3240