I have always loved seafood, from my humble beginnings as a Aussie child who loved a shrimp on the barbie to my now widened palate of all ocean delights. This seafood love has grown slowly over the years, however oysters are only a new addition to the collection. I had tried oysters maybe twice as a teenager, however each time a horrifying image of Mr Bean eating those off, green, gooey, slimy things in the episode where he goes to the seaside hotel, popped into my head and ensured I gagged and had to spit it out.
Oh god, the memories…..
But alas, I have now experienced a rather pleasing oyster, swallowed and had another. In fact there are some patiently waiting in my fridge to be consumed for dinner tomorrow night. I can confidently say that a Native Whitstable oyster has changed my life (yes, I know that’s rather dramatic but after the Mr Bean nightmares I think worth it).
The Whitstable Oyster Company can be traced back as far as the 1400’s, obviously things have changed since then but the oysters havent and they are still as popular as ever. A trip to Whitstable is advised for anyone who loves seafood and a lovely English sea side town. I think it’s just super with its old fashioned high street and Harbour brimming with fresh local goodies. I have just spent a few days there over this looong lovely bank holiday weekend and although I didn’t visit the Whitstable Oyster Company this time, I did purchase some wonderful king prawns and native oysters.
However back in April, I did indeed sit down for a relaxing long family lunch at The Whitstable Oyster Company. The building is right on the seafront and just a short stroll down from the high street. The interior is quite unassuming which I liked, there certainly wasnt an air of pretentiousness showing us to our table. The atmosphere was relaxed, just the way you want it on a sunday afternoon after a glass of champagne.
To start with we tried a selection of oysters, natives, rock and Essex variety. I think the general consensus was no major criticism regarding the Essex (perhaps a little too much fake tan ;p) but a big thumbs up to the local native and rock oysters. I had mine with lemon.
After finishing the champagne and oysters I chose the Moules with cider, cream and mustard and they were beautiful. I could have been happy with a double serve as my entire meal. The creamy, cider and mustard sauce was a slight variation on the usual creamy white wine sauce and a very welcome one at that. I shall endeavour to reproduce this at home, very simple but satisfying.
For my Main I chose the pan-fried local wild seabass with salsa verde. The seabass was a lovely buttery fillet however unfortunately it had been a little over fried and chewy around the edges. The salsa verde was pleasant and had all the right ingredients, but I felt a little too much parsley and not quite enough capers, someone missed the balance, either that or they ran out of capers.
The meals all round were enjoyed but there was one resounding comment, they were too big! They all came with a side of new potatoes which we were told by our friendly waitress were only small in portion and we should definitely order some side dishes. Don’t order side dishes unless your prepared to leave the potatoes or skip the starters. I left my potatoes.
So, the verdict. The oysters and the mussels were fabulous, unfortunately the seabass being overcooked put a slight dampener on my impression, but I’m willing to try again. The menu was diverse in its offerings of fish, the cost was quite reasonable for the service, and the wine list reasonable. But be aware that if your particularly after oysters and mussels then there are a number of pubs and restaurants in town using the same local fish so try them out too, and you might just save a little on the overall cost of your meal.
If in Whitstable you should try it out though or at least grab some oysters on the harbour.