Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, London: ‘The kind of place I daydreamed about’ – restauran …

bentleys oyster bar grill london the kind of place i daydreamed about restaurant review

Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, 11-15 Swallow Street, London W1B 4DG (020 7734 4756). Starters £13.50-£24.50, mains £23.50-£56, desserts £8.75-£10.50, wines from £35.50

Looking up Swallow Street from a deserted Piccadilly, the current incarnation of Bentley’s presents as a warm, glowing pool of light amid the darkness. As we get closer, we can hear a babble of voices. I want mine to be a part of that babble, a murmur of basso profundo to bottom out the high notes. Happily, that’s about to happen. I have bagged a table and I did so courtesy of a cunning ruse. I texted the chef and asked for one.

Stop scowling. Much has been said recently about the arrival of outside dining; about the thrill of the regathered herd, of food cooked by others and the joyous subcontracting of washing-up. Less has been said about the savage battle for bookings. People have been grabbing for slots like addicts desperate for a fix – which, in a way, I suppose they are. The tables are few. The diners are many. The struggle is real. Drastic measures are called for. In any case what scant anonymity I have is useless here, not because I do this job, but because I am a regular. I even have a favoured stool at the marble-topped oyster bar and I’m not ashamed of the fact: it’s the one three in from the door to the kitchen…

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