All reader reviews by Phil Gilbert

Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill

The layout is pretty much the same as before with a marble topped oyster bar on the ground floor and a slightly more formal dining room above. The refurbishment has been sensitive – the wood panelling and Sweetings-esque individual napkin rails and white-jacketed waiters remain, but gone are the faded hunting prints and dirty carpet. It is airy and stylish and it looks the business.

We decided to eat in the bar where the menu is 100% piscine and a joy to read. Amongst our starters was a fish soup of the deep red ilk that is so reminiscent of the south of France. This dish alone is a reflection of Corrigan’s genius – quality, well-sourced ingredients and simplicity of execution are paramount. With its crisp croutons and a perky rouille it was possibly one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, and I mean ever. This bowl of brilliance set the tone for the rest of our meal. A hot crispy oyster and bacon salad was an absolute joy, the oysters crumbed and fried to a turn whilst the flesh within quivered and tasted of the salty tang of the sea. They were so good that the shards of bacon almost seemed superfluous. A plate of squeaky fresh sweet langoustines married excellently with their accompanying mess of oily, garlicky chick peas and green lentils. On paper it looks like a strange combination, on the palate it just made me want to dance a sea shanty on the table.

Of the mains, which included such treats as Zander with smoked eel and red mullet with roast pumpkin, it was the Bentley’s Fish Pie that stole the show. In a dish the size of a small bathtub sat vast chunks of moist salmon and superb smoked haddock topped with mash that can only be compared to chomping on a crispy golden cloud.

The wine list is a good one with helpful pairing suggestions. Some bottles start around the sixteen quid mark and rise steeply. We had a delicious Sauvignon from New Zealand (£27) which worked perfectly with everything.

We didn’t have room for dessert but could have easily been tempted by a Pear and almond tart or a date and apple pudding. Kirkhams’s Lancashire is some of the best cheese that this country has to offer. Good, no-nonsense stuff.

There are many more things that make Bentley’s so very good – the draught Guinness in the bar, the half lemons wrapped in muslin, the unfussy service. I’ve been told that the mixed grill in the upstairs dining room is the best in London. Perhaps one of the very best things about the place is that the bill for three of us, with wine and service, came to £93.00! To me, that represents the best bargain in town by some distance. Of course, we could have spent more, but we could also have spent a lot less. Corrigan should be knighted immediately. I’m not the first person to eat in Bentley’s and get a little misty-eyed and I certainly won’t be the last. Go there now and enjoy every moment.

Friday, January 13, 2006
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 8

The Morgan

The Morgan is a fantastic pub to go to for drinks. Great atmosphere, good beers and attractive staff. However, the cooking always lets this place down. At these prices the kitchen should be delivering the goods time after time but it consistently falls short of the mark. They need to shorten the menu and concentrate on simplicity.

Friday, January 13, 2006
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 4 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 2

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