Tucked away in the heart of St James’s is the bastion of old-fashioned British cuisine, Green’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar. Almost quirky due to the rarity of such a traditional establishment, this is a seafood Mecca with some luxury nursery food on the menu for the pinstripe gentleman’s palette. The restaurant is a character and a throwback to the Jeeves and Wooster era, and the food and service are matched with this prime era of British hospitality.
Lunchtime hosts a buzzing full house with an atmosphere of the business community and art dealers holding court, while the restaurant is designed so that you can show off your dining companions on the open floor of the restaurant or hide away in a booth where your privacy is assured. The room is dominated by the horse shoe bar where you can sit and people watch while indulging in some oysters or a crab salad. Political cartoons and portraits peer down on diners who are attended to by an alert waiting staff.
The food is the star of the show and the menu is homage to great British seasonal seafood as well as the wonders of bangers and mash and steak tartare. Four of us had settled into our booth with a glass of Champagne and all had strong ideas on what to order. Smoked salmon, potted shrimps and West Mersea Colchester rock oysters all arrived just moments after they were ordered. The oysters were as plump and rich as this Essex estuary could possibly offer while the salmon was declared a perfect light smoke and sliced wafer thin. The potted shrimps were a fabulous spiced balance of the sea and its buttery casing melted onto the warm soda bread toast.
We moved onto grilled halibut with hollandaise which was simple and superb – the delicate meaty halibut holding up to the rich hollandaise. The minted mushy peas and wilted spinach were delicious and also used to mop up more hollandaise than was otherwise decent. The monkfish wrapped in Parma ham and fish and chips were hallowed ‘as good as it gets’ and both plates were returned clean and empty.
As we all had to rush back to the office, pudding was bypassed and the moreish chocolates and nougat that came with coffee numbed the sweet craving. Old school classics like Green’s have me going back time and again, and with so many booths for discretion, it’s a diplomat’s dream location.