Situated over three floors in a Victorian building, Bentley's offers The Oyster Bar on the ground floor and a fine dining option, The Grill, upstairs. Private dining is also available. Two things won us over to Bentley's before we even arrived: first, The Oyster Bar is open all day, and second, the menu there is much more extensive than you might expect for an oyster bar giving a very extensive range of through the day dining.
It is given its heritage 'old school' inside with dark wood panels on the wall, old Bentley's fish prints and, possibly initially intimidating, the staff in white blazers. It is fortunately nothing to be scared of and the staff, while occasionally quirky were friendly and helpful throughout and we certainly warmed to them through the meal.
With a choice of five varieties of oyster to start, we were directed to Jersey oysters for a briney rather than creamy hit and they were truly excellent. Sitting at the bar, you also get to see them shucked in front of you.
For starters, a touch of decadence seemed in order with the lobster and brandy soup and despite the fact it's supposed to be summer it felt appropriate. It was also excellent, rich but not overpowering, great depth of flavour and while served a decent sized bowl of the soup, I was actually sad to come to finish it. The other starter was a beef tartare, slightly spoiled by them leaving egg white with the yolk.
On the mains, we chose a fish pie which was also nicely done with big chunks of salmon, white fish and prawns, topped with a tasty crispy potato top. While usually suspicious of fish pie in a restaurant and the quality of the fish used, this is of course something you don't have to worry about at Bentley's and it seemed a real treat.
The other main, poached turbot, was on the day's special board and coming with girolles and mussels it certainly sounded the business, but overall however, it was simply too dull. It was certainly a very healthy option, but missing butter, cream or any fats generally, the dish lacked emphasis and even the mighty turbot felt bland here.
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