I absolutely adore oysters and every now and then, my craving for them becomes so intense, I NEED to satisfy that craving and that was purely the reason why I chose Bonnie Gull for a date night with Mr London meets Paris. Having been to several well-established seafood restaurants in the past, J Sheeky and Randall & Aubin spring to mind, I wanted to try Bonnie Gull as an alternative to add to my repertoire of seafood restaurants and located in London’s vibrant Soho, Bonnie Gull ticked all the boxes. Sometimes, when I am in London shopping, I stop by the Selfridges Seafood counter and devour 6 oysters and a lovely chilled glass of either champagne or Chablis, such is my love for this seafood delicacy.
Heading up there last Saturday, it was the first proper date night for Mr LmP and I had in absolute ages, so we were both really looking forward to it. Bonnie Gull is owned by Alex Hunter and Danny Clancy, Alex sold private jets for a living while Danny is one half of DJ duo Krankbrother. They had one thing in common, a love of the sea and all it’s glories, their philosophy is a simple one, to source fresh, sustainable seafood and fish from our coastal towns and bring them to the city for us to enjoy and I for one am very thankful for that. Their noted suppliers deliver seafood to Bonnie Gull within 36 hours and that’s from the moment the fish are out of water to when it’s on your plate ready to enjoy. Bonnie Gull has a restaurant in Fitzrovia as well as Soho, Fitzrovia is slightly larger but the concept (sourcing and delivering the freshest fish and seafood) is the same.
Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack to give it it’s proper name is tiny, very narrow, smaller than I imagined, we booked to sit at the small restaurant round the back, but the bar had stools available, so we opted to sit there instead. They accept walk-ins as well as reservations, there are probably about 10-12 stools at the bar in total. Bonnie Gull in Soho serve what I would describe as tapa’s style sharing plates with only about 2-3 mains to choose from which includes good old fish and chips and French style Bouillabaisse whereas, Fitzrovia have a more traditional starter/main/dessert menu with of course, plenty of oysters.
WHAT WE ATE
Oysters and plenty of them! I was really looking forward to this. Having run out of Jersey Rock oysters, there was still a good choice, so we went for three Dorset Rock for £8.50 and then we had three Loch Ryan Natives for £12. Never really understanding the difference between the quality of oysters, I always usually opt for the more affordable, I mean can there really be such a notable difference in taste? Oh, but we were so wrong, there clearly is because we chose to have another three of the Loch Ryan, they were probably the same size but much sweeter in taste which was offset by the tart shallot vinegar. Dorset and Jersey Rocks are quite different in that they are not as sweet, but you get a real taste-of-the-sea. Presented on a small platter sitting on a bed of salt and ice, they were divine. In all honesty, I could quite easily have polished off another six by myself no problem at all.
For drinks, Mr LmP had a beer while I enjoyed a glass of prosecco, sadly, they do not offer individual glasses of champagne just bottles and we didn’t really want to go for a bottle. I need to point out, I felt the prosecco was not chilled enough but I really liked the old-fashioned 1970’s coupe champagne glass it was served in.
As well as traditional oysters, we also enjoyed three tempura Dorset rock oysters with came with pickled watermelon radish and a creamy mayo type sauce. I found these oysters to be just sublime, I loved the crispy tempura batter which is no surprise as tempura is a huge favourite of mine when I go for Japanese. They were light and crispy perfectly complemented by the radish and mayo. I was offered the last one much like the last Rolo in the Rolo chocolate ad’s, I know, I’m going back a few years and clearly revealing my age here. I wanted another three and wish we had ordered more to be honest. We also ordered a bottle wine and as with my prosecco, it was just not chilled enough, I like wine to be well chilled, not icy cold it as it spoils the flavour but not warm either, it’s just not pleasant like that.
Mr LmP didn’t want to go for a big main as he had quite a substantial lunch at work, not his idea, the lovely Indian restaurant around the corner offered him some curry and you really can’t refuse a complimentary curry lunch and me being slight in appetite would you believe, was quite happy to carry on with sharing plates. For this we ordered Dorset cockles with coriander and chorizo at £10 and Tempura Squid with black pepper mayo at £8. The cockles came in a coriander broth and of course generous slices of sourdough bread to mop this delicious herby garlicky broth up. I felt there could have been more cockles, some of the shells were closed so in effect, that’s one less juicy cockle, the chorizo made quite an ordinary dish very special. The squid was gorgeously succulent, not at all rubbery, we asked for plenty of lemon to squeeze over as you do when you’re Greek, everything must have lemon especially meat and fish. I kind of feel a bit sad we didn’t order more, I felt there was room for another couple of dishes but at least we weren’t uncomfortably full.
We ordered dessert, Mr LmP is a lover of all things rhubarb, so it was a no brainer that he would choose the Rhubarb & Chestnut Frangipane tart with mandarin sorbet, I chose Chocolate Mousse with gingerbread and boozy cherries. My husband thoroughly enjoyed the tart, it was nice, but I found my mousse to be too sweet and not chocolatey enough, I have a feeling it was made with milk chocolate rather than dark as it should be, but I enjoyed the thin slices of gingerbread and cherries.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Overall, I really like Bonnie Gull, it’s location in Soho completely complements the vibe of the restaurant, it’s laid back and casual and the staff are fantastic. We really enjoyed the food, the oysters are obviously the stars of the show, I think the only let down for me was that the drinks were not cold enough and I wasn’t really impressed with my dessert. There is a limited choice of main and dessert as I’ve already mentioned, the concept at Bonnie Gull is mainly small sharing plates. If you prefer a more traditional menu but still want to enjoy fabulous oysters and seafood, then head over to Bonnie Gull Fitzrovia Shack. I also found our meal a little bit too expensive for what we had but I guess that was because we chose the most expensive oysters on the menu. Bonnie Gull isn’t what I would describe as an expensive restaurant, the dishes are mid-range and reasonably priced, it’s how much you eat that will inevitably push the price up and of course how much you drink.
WOULD I GO AGAIN
Yes, for sure, I would be inclined to visit Fitzrovia branch next time just out of curiosity. BonnieGull in Soho do a daily “Bonnie Hour” where you can have a glass of prosecco for £5 and enjoy oysters priced at £1 each, for me, that’s a resounding yes!
Our meal cost £127 with service. My photographs are limited and not great as I did not have my camera with me.
22 Bateman Street
Telephone: 020 7734 6676