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As an island nation, fish is as much a fixture of the British menu as Roast Beef or Spotted Dick. Even before Francis Drake brought potatoes back from the new world, allowing fish’n’chips to become the nation’s comfort food of choice, we were feasting on the trout from our rivers, carp from our lakes, and cod from our surrounding seas. Since then, globalisation has allowed us to cast our nets wider, with non-native species such as monkfish, squid and lobster now highly-prized by British palates. Rich in omega-3 and other life-preserving goodness, fish done well is also exceedingly tasty. Below is Fluid’s guide to best venues in London in which to enjoy all its qualities, each proving we Londoners have come a long way since jellied eels was our piscine repast of choice.
West End / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Fish
Renowned as London's finest fish restaurant ever since it opened in 1896, there is still no sign that the crown is slipping on this West End institution, where the world-renowned fish pie remains the highlight of a high-quality and varied menu. Although the St Martin's Court location conceals it from the throng of pedestrian traffic that abounds in nearby Leicester and Trafalgar Squares, the excellence of Sheekey's fare is no secret: be sure to book WELL in advance.
Wright Brothers Oyster and Porter House
Borough & Southwark / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Seafood
Bustling with a vibe akin to that of nearby Borough Market, this cosy, laid-back venue is rightly renowned for the quality and breadth of its oyster menu. Also boasting a superb assortment of dishes featuring other molluscs, crustaceans and shell-free fish, the broad selection of porters on offer additionally makes this charming bistro a Mecca for lovers of the dark beer. The two eponymous ingredients are brilliantly brought together in the Oyster & Guinness Pie, a must for first-time visitors.
Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill
Mayfair / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Seafood
With a vibrant oyster bar buzzing below an elegant, refined dining area, Bentley's offers the best of both worlds for those with pockets deep enough (city bankers, landed aristocracy, the Queen, etc.). Appropriately for a restaurant that so authentically retains the stateliness of its Edwardian origins, the menu is an almost imperial fair, incorporating influences from all round the world in a very British way. The extensive wine list is as expertly compiled (and as pricey) as the food menu.
Randall & Aubin
Soho / Restaurant / Cuisine: Fish
Soho - A little slice of Paris tucked unobtrusively onto Brewer Street, this is the place to head for fantastic seafood and a healthy dose of je ne sais quoi. Billed as a Champagne & oyster bar, yet with none of the snooty pretence the weighty title suggests. Instead: beautifully fresh fish, a cordial atmosphere (just as well in what an estate agent would call an 'intimate' dining space) and more character than you can shake a French stick at. Lobster and chips, anyone? (Imogen Rowland)
London Shell Co.
Paddington / Restaurant / Cuisine: Seafood
Seafood enthusiasts can now tuck into mouth-watering dishes from the ocean at this permanent floating restaurant in Regent's Canal. London Shell Co. have an incredible menu of seasonal-inspired dishes, alongside bespoke wine, short-cocktails and spirit lists, all brought together in the beautiful and intimate environment of the Prince Regent canal boat. The menu - which changes every day - also offers a selection of wild and British game alongside an offering from the deep blue.
Marylebone / Restaurant / Cuisine: Indian
Delivering an innovative twist on the coastal cuisine of south-west India, Trishna London is the sister restaurant of Trishna in Mumbai which is widely acknowledged as one of the best seafood restaurants in the world. The clean and minimalist feel of the restaurant is offset by tumbled marble, smoked oak, brickwork and glass. A casual, informal and sociable dining atmosphere prevails with great buzz and energy. Meanwhile, the menu showcases the freshest British seafood, meat and vegetables.
City of London / Restaurant / Cuisine: Seafood
An exciting seafood restaurant in the City. Loch Fyne have created a stunning restaurant in Leadenhall Market where you can enjoy fabulous fish and shellfish in a bright, open restaurant. There is also a fun bar area with an extended selection of beers and fine wines - this is open to diners and non-diners.
Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Seafood
The all-day Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill restaurant at the top of the the Sky Garden not only has outstanding views looking south over the Thames, but also serves the finest oysters, fish and crustacean as well as seasonal game, meat and vegetarian dishes. Look out for the seafood cocktail with lobster, roasted day boat cod with Judion beans and chorizo, and fillet steak on the bone with marrowbone shallot sauce. The restaurant also includes a beautiful private dining room with space for 18 guests, perfect to host small events from business meetings to personal celebrations.
Gow's Fish Restaurant & Oyster Bar
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Seafood
On the corner of Broad Street and Liverpool Street Gow's contemporary restaurant offers marine influenced a la carte and table d'hote menus for lunch and dinner. Serving premium British seafood in the heart of The City of London for over 125 years, Gow's Restaurant is an elegant escape from the urban bustle. Boasting a chic oyster bar and private dining options, the menu boasts a superb range of seafood delicacies, and hearty sharing platters. Non-seafood and vegetarian dishes are also offered, as well as a list of vintage champagnes.
Simply Fish Shoreditch
Shoreditch / Restaurant / Cuisine: Seafood
Simply Fish's USP is very simple: fish. Delivered daily, fresh from Cornwall, the Simply Fish fish is sustainable and super tasty. A fun, simple menu allows customers to pick their method of cooking, the sauce to be served with the fish, as well a side dish. The Simply Fish team have been serving up seafood from their Camden branch since August 2012. The 54 seat Simply Fish Shoreditch restaurant has a prime spot on the trendy Boxpark first floor and it will also be serving the City and East London's best sustainable seafood via awesome electric delivery bikes.
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