Open Mon–Sat midday–2.30pm and 6pm–9.30pm; Sun midday–2pm and 6pm–9pm
The former ordinary Slug & Lettuce pub has now become an American-inspired porter house and oyster bar, complete with an in-house fishmonger (John Norris), a butcher (The Ginger Pig) and a florist (Hayford & Rhodes) in the adjacent cobbled courtyard.
The spacious 120-seater dining room, decorated in classic brasserie style, complements the original features. There are stools surrounding the central and oyster bar, wooden tables by the open kitchen and brick fireplace and big, comfy booths – where we sat – in the window.
Smart staff provide slick service and we gladly took their advice on the long menu, which includes the recommended super-fresh crustacean as well as burgers, fish pie, veal chops, chicken, sushi, pasta and even risotto. Luckily that meant there were a number of vegetarian options: I had the crisp Asian-inspired salad (£7.25) to start – mizuno leaf, lotus root chips, carrot and daikon ribbons, bok choi, juicy shitake mushrooms and bean sprouts – coated in a mirin and Ponzu (sweet rice wine and citrus-based Japanese) dressing. My friend, Anna, didn’t need to ponder: she soon demolished her well-presented half lobster (market price) with mayonnaise, lemon and side salad. After her first mouthful of her main of grilled yellowfin tuna (£13.50) she declared, it ‘amazing. I wish you could try it’ before demonstrating how tender its flesh was by gliding her knife through it. Her fish came with perfectly-cooked broccoli and a simple avocado salsa, so she needed to order a side of creamy mash (£3). My grilled aubergine cannelloni (£13.50) didn’t live up to Anna’s dish. The aubergine was a little tough, but was wrapped around a light filling of bulgar wheat, feta cheese and pine nuts, while the rich, tomato sauce was quite garlicky.
Every dessert (£7 each) sounded tempting, so we went for the recommended strawberry and peach salad with mint which arrived in a wine glass – deliciously refreshing – and a gooey hot chocolate pot – which we thought could do with a bit more something (bite or a soufflé perhaps) – with vanilla ice-cream.
As well as the extensive food menu, there are plenty of wines, many of which are served by the glass or carafe. Locals were in the bar area (including a local red beret-wearing old lady drinking beer from the bottle) as well as a couple of dates and visiting Americans. We had visited on a Monday evening, so we couldn’t expect the restaurant to be full and it was a big space to fill. However, we did think the rather steep prices might also be a factor.
Meal for two, with house wine, around £100.