oyster shucking Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill in Mayfair, London

Return To The West End  

Emerging from a tumultuous year we muse over the fun to be had in the West End

Booths are great for cosy winter suppers, a terrace seat is highly sought after for light summer lunches, but the perennial appeal of a seat at the Oyster Bar endures. 

There is something incredibly relaxing, even meditative about watching an expert tend their craft. Sitting back with a cool glass of crisp fizz to be entertained by the famous Oyster Boys shucking away in timeless fashion has this very effect. Jay Rayner made no bones about the fact that he [has] “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.” 

Following a year of unimaginable change where little is as it was, we cherish the normality of dining out more than ever. Watching a food older than humanity be prepared in the same spot as it has been for the past 105 years is reassuring.  It speaks of a continuity and offers perspective to our current preoccupations. 

How sweet it feels to once again return to the West End to shop with friends on Regent Street before stopping in at Swallow Street for a dozen oysters. So many of us are eagerly looking forward to heading into Soho for dinner and a show after the extended interval we have all endured. With hope and trepidation we look forward once more to Christmas shopping at Fortnum & Mason, selecting the finest festive ham before heading across Piccadilly to restore yourself with a glass of Champagne and half a grilled lobster.  

A lot of attention has been given to the general term that is ‘wellbeing’ as a result of the pandemic. Scented candles, meditation apps and sleep sprays are wonderful, but perhaps we overlook enjoying the everyday. Recline into your seat, savour an oyster, order a favourite Champagne on a weekday evening just for the hell of it, or simply tune in to the comforting background babble and allow your email inbox to fade from memory. 

Make a date for your next visit to Bentley’s by clicking here.