Hook, Line and Sinker: London's Best Seafood



It might not be the dramatic cliffs of Cornwall, where the oysters practically leap from the sea into your loving arms, but London has a huge amount to offer when it comes to seafood. The city hosts some of the most robust fish markets and uses its geography of wharves and tributaries to source those tasty treats that give all the buzzworthy restaurants their stand-out dishes. Fish concoctions are often the stars of London's Michelin star restaurants (the flamed mackerel at Fera at Claridge's? We swoon.), and no trip to London would be complete without sampling England's most prized resource – allergies permitting. Fan of fish and chips, firm in its position as the food of the people? Serious about sashimi, in a city where Japanese is having a long-overdue moment? We're here to guide your way through the high-flying-est luxury spots and the most indulgent secret finds. You can splash out – no pun intended – or go budget, and our picks for London's fish foodie finds always maintain a focus on sustainability and eco-ethics. So get your bib on, your crab cracker out, and remember which one is the fish fork (far right?), because your London seafood journey starts here!



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Fitzrovia


 

Roka fits in beautifully with its Fitzrovia neighbors. There's something elegant almost Edwardian to its atmosphere, and you wouldn't be surprised to find London A-listers drifting through its doors. It's sleek and welcoming, and its offerings of fish and shellfish is near impossible to rival. Roka's Premium Tasting Menu will get you delicate treasures like yellowtail sashimi with yuzu-truffle dressing and naka kaki Irish oysters with ponzu and chili daikon. Or for something more indulgent, try the rice hot pot with king crab and wasabi tobiko. It's a different vibe entirely from the new ramen pop-ups and the financial district's in-and-out sushi counters. It's seasonal and stylish, and the perfect afternoon indulgence.


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Sitting atop the South Place Hotel, Angler makes apparent early on its elegantly versatile nature. With "sustainable seafood from British waters, paired with the best seasonal and local produce", as well as world-renowned sommelier Benoit Allauzen, Angler is a double-hitter, and might just be the wine-enthusiast's seafood paradise. Their tasting menu includes everything from smoked eel to minestrone, and they offer a Sunday BBQ which reinvents the form: mackerel-squid sliders, prawn and pork belly skewers, and Cornish cod goujons. Why not pair with a sleek Sunday cocktail like the Angler "Doctor's Order" which includes Woodford Reserve, lemon, honey, egg white, and cherry bitters? Doctor's orders, after all.


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Mayfair


 

Take a Michelin star chef, an intimidatingly swanky location, and a near theatrical take on detail and decor, and you have Umu, one of the shining jewels in Mayfair's menagerie of high-end Japanese luxury restaurants. Head Chef Yoshinori Ishii has been displaying his flair for exquisitely delicate Kyoto-inspired cuisine since taking over at Umu in 2010, and he has curated an experience which will leave both Japanese-food-pedants and poshies in awe. For £45 a set lunch will get you a selection of fresh sashimi with kinshi and shiitake, or go a la carte and try Ibushi smoked "a la minute" with plum-shiso for £28.


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Balthazar is not, strictly speaking, a fish restaurant or an oyster bar, but rather a transported New York institution which happens to lord its seafood-mongering talents over the competition with stylish non-effort. It's the definition of gold-plated Old World nostalgia-chic, a gold-lit monument to the early days of New York and London's first metropolitan romance. Try lobster spaghetti for £27 with a full-bodied rosé like Coche-Bizouard Bourgogne Rouge. If you're feeling especially extravagant, try the "Le Balthazar"-sized pleateaux de fruits de mer: lobster, whelks, mussels, dressed crab, langoustine, shrimp, oysters, and ceviche. It's decadence done right, and you'd be advised to come with an appetite.


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Trishna's Michelin star was awarded in 2012, a time in which London was in the global spotlight. And indeed there may be no restaurant in London which better represents its spirit: Indian restaurant Trishna presents a terrifically elegant dance of cross-cultural approaches to fresh, sustainable, gorgeously prepared seafood and shellfish, tucked in one of the city's most beloved neighbourhoods. Try a tasting menu, which includes Dorset brown crab with butter, pepper, chilli, and garlic. Or go a la carte and try Trishna's Hariyali bream with green chilli, coriander, and smoked tomato kachumber. There's no better preparation of rich west Asian flavours, and it'll leave seafood enthusiasts bragging for weeks.


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The Wright Brothers have made seafood many things: sustainable, curated, and very cool. Embedded in Spitalfields Market within a stone's throw of folksy menswear boutiques and the vintage racks, The Wright Brothers seem to have absorbed the identity of the east for their latest addition to their set of restaurants and oyster bars. But all that brassy, stylish veneer hasn't distracted from the Wright Brothers's commitment to taste and sustainability. "By sourcing pacific oyster seed from a hatchery," they explain, "we ensure that our farming is entirely sustainable and we do not deplete any wild stocks. We take out from the marine environment only what we put in." Go for dressed oysters with spring onion mignonette (£10) and deep-fried Peterhead haddock with mushy peas and triple-cooked chips (£18.50).


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It's ethical, it's bountiful, it's fresh, and it's delicious. Loch Fyne is without a doubt one of London's strongest seafood restaurants, even though some of their produce has made quite the journey to your table. "Much of the shellfish and smoked fish served in our restaurants still comes direct from the loch," the team behind the restaurant, with locations in Edinburgh, Bath, London, and beyond, explains, "and is delivered so fresh you can taste the fresh spring water that tumbles down from the surrounding mountains when you tuck into a delicious Loch Fyne oyster." Go for a shellfish platter with a whole crab: oysters, king prawns, hot crevettes, Scottish rope-grown mussels, Palourde clams, squid, and langoustines, all for £54.95.


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Barrafina offers the kind of food you have to work for. It's virtually impossible to avoid an hour-long queue (the seats barely hit the double digits), and you're likely to be elbow-to-elbow with strangers. But once you've got your first glass tinto, Barrafina's exquisite spirit becomes increasingly exposed. Stunning seafood dishes like octopus with capers (at £9.80) are profound in their simplicity, bringing out clean, startlingly robust flavors. More ambitious dishes like the Pluma Ibérica with confit potatoes showcase the rare culinary gifts of Head Chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho and her team, for a total experience which is dizzying and unforgettable. Barrafina is truly a gift, and absolutely worth the wait.


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Part fishmonger, part seafood bar, Prawn On The Lawn manages to be one of the most charming 'holes-in-the-wall' London has to offer, where fresh-from-the-ice scallops, monkfish, squid, langoustine, and of course the eponymous prawns get made in to colourful, delectable small dishes. Blink in Highbury and you could miss it: head downstairs to the 16-seater basement for an intimate dining experience. Try seared tuna with chilli, coriander, spring onion, mirin, and soy for £8.50, or Prawn On The Lawn fruits de mer for £60, which includes crab, prawns, mussels, clams, jumbo prawn, smoked prawns, langoustine, whelks, crevettes, and oysters. It's well worth the jaunt from Islington's beautiful Upper Street, and while you're there you can wander toward less-trodden Canonbury for a pint at The Snooty Fox or a walk around Newington Green.


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It's part of London's vast culinary mythology, and it feels a bit like stepping back in time to Covent Garden's theatrical heyday. J Sheekey offers a cornucopia of the city's freshest seafood in a darkly lit, brass embellished ambience which is perfect for highbrow romancing or laid back business dealings. Start with scallops in a halfshell with garlic and chilli for £17.50, and move on to a grilled Dover sole with bearnaise for £39.50. All whilst sipping on something fizzy – a Gyéjacquot Brut, perhaps? J Sheekey is the kind of London institution both your grandfather and your hip niece are dying to dine in, so book quick!


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Meet Arianna Reiche

Arianna Reiche is a London-based writer and publisher. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she studied at the University of Edinburgh before working with Vice, New Scientist,...  More About Arianna

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