Thursday, 16 February 2012

Fussy Eaters: Stay Away From London’s New Oyster Bar!

By Patrick Evenden

I’m not saying I’m better than them, but…

....back in my youth, when the height of dining out was a weekly trip to McDonalds, they were easy to spot. They would be the ones tentatively unwrapping their cheeseburgers, while I was already halfway through mine, before they prised open their bap to disgustedly extract the sliver of gherkin. They would then finger through their chips, singling out those less-than-perfect few that were slightly discoloured, leaving them abandoned at the side of the tray ready for me to hoover up.

I am talking, of course, about that sub-species: the fussy eater. Back then I was far from adventurous myself. I would only drink milk if it was warm, or, as I put it, “cooked”. And I mistakenly discarded poppadums on the grounds that I thought they tasted of farts. However, I already recognised that these guys were on another level and were to be viewed with the same contempt as vegetarians or kids that couldn’t handle their Roller-Cola.

However, as you grow older they become more difficult to spot, as palates mature and culinary opportunities broaden significantly. They’re still there though, ordering their steaks well-done, turning up their noses at blue cheese and dipping their plain naan into the custard-like sauce of a Chicken Korma. They make hosting dinner parties a nightmare:

“You know so-and-so doesn’t eat fish?”


“Doesn’t eat fish?! What ALL fish?”


“Uh-huh.”


“Christ! Well, I can do him some toast and Mini-Cheddars?”

Clearly they make less than ideal friends and so it is in your interests to weed out these drips and never invite them to anything, ever. Apart from maybe paintball. And the best way to do this is with seafood.

The fact that billions-upon-billions of people have been happily digesting seafood for hundreds of thousands of years, is not enough to assuage their level of distrust. Pop a whelk in front of this mob and they go to pieces. Or even better, try it with an oyster.

I was at the newly opened Oyster Shed bar and restaurant, just off Upper Thames Street in the City of London, last week. It is a lovely place situated right on the river, opposite the imposing magnificence of the soon-to-be completed Shard. As I’m sure you can imagine, they are big on the bivalves and I can think of few places in the City where I’d rather get completely shucked.

Now, to my mind, there is nothing on this planet as perfect as the taste of an oyster. And yet, due to demand, there was one under-employed fellow tucked away in the corner handing out fresh Jersey oysters at the Oyster Shed launch party, while it took four people to serve tepid Sauvignon Blanc at the bar. It was like going to Bordeaux for a beer festival.

Fussy bloody eaters, that’s what they were! My stomach turned as I heard them say, “Oh, but it might make me sick?”

“I knew that you would be here, but I still turned up” I cuttingly replied. Well, I would have said that. If I didn’t have a face full of oysters.

I’ll leave you to decide which of these smug faces is a fussy eater.





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