Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

More Ways to Make Fish the Ultimate Dish; Eating Out: Splash out and Join the Islington Set

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

More Ways to Make Fish the Ultimate Dish; Eating Out: Splash out and Join the Islington Set

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLES CAMPION

LAST week saw the start of the native oyster season being celebrated at the Tabasco British Oyster Opening Championships.

London's finest shuckers were competing for a place in the international final to be held in Galway, Ireland, at the end of the month. Whatever the fine print on some menus says about the wisdom of mixing molluscs and strong drink, the Galway Oyster Festival is a joyously alcoholic affair, and in 2001, Fredrik Lindfors, from Wilton's in Jermyn Street, won the British heat then the international gold.

This year, our representative is Armando Lemo, who runs Coastline Galicia, a fishmonger's shop on Abbey Road.

The rules of oyster opening are arcane in the extreme: "marks will be deducted for oysters not severed cleanly from the shell; for oysters not turned; for grit, or shell, or the contestant's blood on the oyster."

Shucking is a dangerous business, but Lemo ended up with a creditable adjusted time of two minutes 41 seconds for opening 30 plump Irish oysters, and should do well in Galway.

Despite the year-round availability of rock oysters, there is still an air of excitement attendant on the return of the R in the month. It is a good time to sally forth to a fish specialist and sample a few.

One of London's newer fish restaurants is The Fish Shop on St John Street.

This is more a restaurant than a fish shop, but the owners, Alan and Olga Conway, were formerly proprietors of the Upper Street Fish Shop (highly rated among fish-and-chip aficionados), so presumably the convoluted name is intended to echo those former glories.

The St John Street restaurant is a different kettle of fish. It looks as if it was once a pub, seats 86 covers over three floors, the decor is modern, and a rear wall made entirely from glass gives a light and airy feel and a view across the courtyard garden-The menu offers shellfish, starters, main courses, and "deep-fried fish of the day and chips" before going into side orders and children's dishes. …

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