Tucked away on a side road away from the commercial bedlam of Regent Street, Fishworks’ latest opening offers shoppers and scoffers some welcome respite from the land of retail. As we walked down Swallow Street we couldn’t help noticing the crowd noise fade, and as we stepped into the restaurant, the laid back feel of the place distanced us from the chaos of the main drag.
Dark wooden floors and pared down tones serve as an understated backdrop to a huge wine rack, which cut the restaurant in two. We settled into our chairs, welcomed by efficient staff and began eyeing up the black board of specials. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to sit down to dinner if you fancy a bite of something. The champagne and cocktail bar (next to the huge wine rack) serves up bubbles and a dozen oysters for those looking to consume something a little less weighty.
We were hungry though, so oysters were ordered to start along with some fennel and anchovy flatbread. The bread was moreishly addictive and scuppered our plans of saving ourselves for the main course. The oysters tasted great in their shallot vinaigrette, but were let down a little by messy shucking. We scoured the wine list whilst we ate too much bread and decided on a glass each of Fishworks’ very own white blend, which they develop each year to suit their fish rich menu. For fans of an aperitif, Bloody Marys (accompanied by a Fines de Claire oyster) and manzanilla are also available to whet your appetite.
The wine went down well, being refreshingly crisp and a great partner for our starters. The scallops had caught our attention for the main course and the signature dish ‘Zuppa del Pescatore’ looked far too tempting to turn down with its stew of fresh fish, shellfish, thyme and saffron. The scallops were perfectly plump, resting juicily in their shells, covered in garlic butter. The stew, which came to the table in a copper pan was seriously good – it’s light broth balancing out the generously rich mix of mussels, king prawns, clams and white fish. Taste is always what you seek from a dish, but as a bonus every time this one is ordered from the menu, £1 is donated to The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. Our desserts of sherry trifle and crème brûlée were as rich as they were huge and had us feeling as though we should have stopped at our main courses, although the first few indulgent bites were thoroughly enjoyable.
Thankfully there’s that period of rest in between dinner and breakfast when we sleep (or try to sleep) – that period of time that your stomach probably cherishes for a chance to recover from an overly keen appetite. If you’re the kind of person that never tires of a course or two (especially a fish course), Fishworks’ breakfast menu may well satisfy your morning cravings with grilled butter kippers and smoked salmon & scrambled eggs featuring, alongside the temptations of Danish pastries and bacon doorstop sandwiches. Elevenses anyone?
A meal for two with wine will set you back around £75.00.
Fishworks: 7-9 Swallow Street, London, W1. Tel: 020 7734 5813.
Reviewer: Helenka Bednar