The biggest thing Oyster Shed has going for it is its on-the-river-looking-across-to-London Bridge location. It’s also shiny and big but quirkily furnished enough that it doesn’t feel like one of those soulless monstrosities of glass and chrome. I particularly enjoyed the toilets, each cubical designed to look like a beach shed (though to get to them you have to go down a lift which sounds fine, but was actually pretty annoying on a busy Thursday night).
This location has its downsides however, namely its proximity to towering offices full of businesspeople (who clearly race for a pint en masse once they’ve finished making money for the day). From where we sat, on the upper level, 30 seat dining area, it felt like we were looking at a huge bowl of suit soup. The mezzanine level is much more civilised, each table romantically decked out with candles and flowers, the din below adding a pleasant buzz to proceedings.
The menu is concise and pubby (my favourite kind) with classics such as chicken liver parfait, coronation crab, Lancashire hotpot and steak and oyster pie (despite the gastro pub’s name, oysters only crop up intermittently, so don’t get too excited/be put off if you are/are not a mollusc fan). I had, of course, looked at the menu online and already decided on the very exciting sounding ham hock and scotch egg salad, a rib eye and sticky toffee pud. He added salt cod fritters, a second steak and a crème brûlée.
The salad, topped with shreds of soft pink meat, quarters of warm scotch egg and a scattering of blanched peas, looked as good as it read, and tasted even better. The golden fritters were tasty, though (I never say this) they could have held back a bit on the seasoning. Both steaks were cooked as we liked them, with a convincing criss cross of char across the flesh. Accompanying chips and pretty little carrots were crispy and crisp respectively. We tackled our cows with two excellent glasses of red, mine a New Zealand Pinot Noir and his, a fine Bordeaux.
Things unravelled slightly with dessert (no sticky sauce with the slightly dry toffee sponge and a tepid yet overcooked brûlée). But, as we were so full we could barely get the delicious pudding wine to our lips, all was forgiven (particularly after the poor waiter seemed so genuinely upset about the missing sauce, that he offered us an apology brandy).
We concluded the evening, sinking our matching Armagnacs out front, taking in the twinkling city lights and endless red buses hurtling across London Bridge. Which, on a randomly warm Thursday eve in Feb, was pretty bloody lovely.
1 Angel Lane