iPods, Sat Navs, Blackberrys – all iconic symbols and essential tools for the modern world, yet all completely lacking any sort of personality or character. But I wonder – how many of us miss the charm of old-school technology and wish that we could have some of it back? Does anyone remember the last time they hand wrote a meaningful letter or wound down to the sweet sound of vinyl? This applies to the food world as well. Restaurants are so intent on becoming the ‘next big thing’ that they often forget that the ‘last big thing’ really didn’t need changing.
Bentley’s first opened its doors in 1916 and our recent visit was filled with timeless class and glamour that I’m sure the original visitors were treated to. The restaurant was restored to something of its former glory around 3 years ago by former Great British Menu winner Richard Corrigan and combines an intimate Champagne Bar with a relaxed Oyster Bar and a more formal Grill restaurant. We dined in the Oyster Bar, where guests have a choice of sitting either at the marble topped bar or in red leather banquettes at marble tables.
The Oyster Bar menu is almost exclusively made up of seafood, so we thought we’d dive straight into the deep end with a fresh plate of Maldon Oysters. For starters, my Scallops with Pork Belly was described by Alex Vee as the “the best starter I’ve ever tasted”, whilst the Salt & Chilli Battered King Prawns was a lesson in perfect seasoning. Mains included a simple yet delicious Grilled Lobster with Garlic Sauce. This was followed by a cheese course which included an amazing matching of Colston Basset Stilton with a glass of Sauterne. We finished off our meal with some dainty Spiced Madelines and ice cream.
The whole venue is full of character and warmth that you just don’t see in restaurants any more. Lionel, our waiter was not only totally charming, but also incredibly knowledgeable with his wine recommendations. Most surprising though were the reasonable prices and good portions. Bentley’s provides one of the finest dining experiences in London and shows that sometimes we need to look to the past to move forwards.
Cuisine type – British seafood
Dinner for 2 (ex. drinks) – £70
Cocktails – £9
Wine – £5
The Oyster Bar @ Bentley’s
11-15 Swallow Street
020 7734 4756