On Thursday, the world will raise a glass to St Patrick’s Day – a celebration of Ireland and its rich cultural history, but mostly a time when revellers drink too much Guinness. For those who would rather not spend 17 March down the pub, Harden’s has got some great suggestions on where in London you can tuck into Irish oysters, beef and Guinness pie or a warming bowl of stew, all washed down with a lovely pint of stout (what else?)…
St Patrick’s Day feast: £68 pp in Swallow Rooms private dining area with live Irish music.
And there’s Achill oysters in the oyster bar alongside other Irish specials.
Oyster Stout (draught) ½ pint: £5.50
Harden’s says: “Always fun, especially in the downstairs oyster bar” – Richard Corrigan’s “classy” fish veteran, near Piccadilly Circus, won vigorous praise this year for its “amazing” oysters and other “bang-on” fish and seafood; there’s a “pleasingly traditional” upstairs restaurant too.
St Patrick’s inspired seasonal market menu Monday 14-Friday 18 March.
Two courses £25, three courses £29 with a complimentary Black Velvet (stout and champagne).
Expect the likes of Irish Stew, Steak & Guinness pie, and hake with colcannon. For the sweet-of-tooth there’s Guinnes fondant and Guinness ice cream alongside treacle tart.
Harden’s says: Richard Corrigan’s “spacious” and dignified Mayfair dining room has long been a business favourite, and – although it’s undeniably pricey – won very solid praise this year for its “top quality” cuisine and service that’s “attentive yet unobtrusive”.
On 17 March catch Gaz Mayall’s Trojans (Celtic ska with backing band) and DJ upstairs. £10 entry after 8 pm.
Beef & Guinness pie with greens: £13
Harden’s says: “Fab fresh shellfish” makes the packed bar of Tom Conran’s Irish boozer in Bayswater “heaven” for lovers of Guinness and oysters, and other seafood treats; more limited, but positive feedback too on its quirky, first floor dining room.
17 March – live Irish band, Jameson whiskey tasting and homemade Irish stew served all night at the bar – plus 2-4-1 drinks from 6-8 pm.
Harden’s says: With its beautiful canal-side terrace, this “buzzy” arts centre brasserie is ideal in summer, especially on business; realisation of the dishes – meat in particular – can be “wonderful”, but can also be “way off-the-mark”.
Carlingford Lough Oysters: £2.75 each/£16.25 for six
Dublin Bay prawns: £4.50 each
Harden’s says: “Slurping down quality oysters perched on a stool – is there a better way of spending an evening?” Not according to many devotees of the “brilliant”, “friendly” and “glamorous” bar attached to the adjacent “doyenne of seafood restaurants”.
Hearty (Ireland) – their meatiest, densest oyster but still with a fresh and sweet finish – 2.75 each
Bargain bivalves (£1 an oyster at happy hour) are a mainstay of east London’s only raw seafood bar – a feature of Brett Redman’s new Hackney hang out (on the site of LMNT, RIP), which also boasts a “superb fish menu” and “good list of wines by the glass”.
Irish Rocks: 6 for £14.85, 12 for £28, 24 for £51
Harden’s says: “It just rocks!”; this “cool little Soho haven” is “a bit cramped and insanely busy” thanks to its “fabulous” seafood (“proper fruits de mer”) and “top rotisserie chicken”; in September 2015, its once notoriously uncomfortable tall stools received a plush makeover, making them an even better perch for people-watching!
Carlingford Lough oysters: 6 for £15.50, 13 for £31
Guinness: ½ pint £2.60, pint £4.90
Harden’s says: “Oysters zinging with the taste of the sea” and other “phenomenal” seafood has made a major hit of the “crowded” but “happy” Borough Market original; its more spacious Soho and, now, Spitalfields spin-offs are good too, if not quite so much fun.
Achill rock oysters (grade II): 2.75 each
Hammerton, Pentonville Oyster Stout (330ml): £5.50
Harden’s says: “Like a weekend to the Cornish coast without the traffic!” – this “cute” Fitzrovia “seafood shack” may be “cramped” and “noisy” but it has won a wide reputation with its “simply prepared and beautifully cooked fish”.