THE shortlist

TEN PLACES TO EAT OYSTERS
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Indy Lifestyle Online
IN LONDON...

Sweetings, 39 Queen Victoria Street, EC4 (0171-248 3062). Crusty and engaging City bastion where traders must slap down cash (no credit cards) for their seafood. A dozen oysters cost pounds 19.50; pounds 9.75 for six. A decent house white costs pounds 10.95; a pint of Guinness pounds 3. Open Mon-Fri 11.30-3pm.

Once singular and clubbable, Bentley's, 11-15 Swallow Street, W1 (0171- 287 5025) is now chain-owned, and it shows. However, the downstairs oyster bar remains somehow unperturbed. Three grades of oysters are served: Natives Grade I costs pounds 14.75 for 6. Natives grade II pounds 13.25 for 6; Pacifics pounds 8.50 for 6. Pint of Guinness pounds 2.40, house white pounds 11.50. Oyster bar open 12 noon -11.30pm Mon-Sat. Major credit cards.

The pearl of Conran's crustacea bars (also found in Quaglino's and Pont de la Tour) is Bibendum Oyster Bar (below), Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, SW3 (0171-589 1480). A platter of Scottish, Irish and French rock oysters cost pounds 15; house white pounds 9.50. All in all, absolutely fabulous. Open Mon-Fri 12 noon-10.30pm; Sun til 10pm. Major credit cards.

Green's Restaurant and Oyster Bar, 30 Duke Street, SW1 (0171-930 4566). "My good man, a dozen of your best natives. There's a good fellow. Capital. Capital." A club whose oyster openers are champions. A dozen natives cost pounds 14. Open daily lunch and dinner. Major credit cards.

Le Palais du Jardin, 136 Long Acre, WC2 (0171-379 5353). Eastern-managed brasserie with admirably democratic pricing and crisp service. A dozen oysters cost pounds 9: a snip for Covent Garden. Open 12noon-12 midnight daily. Major credit cards.

DUBLIN: It seems an eccentric arrangement for a pub specialising in seafood: Fox's Famous Seafood Kitchen, Glencullen, Co Dublin (00-353- 1-295 5647) is reputed to be the highest pub in Ireland. A dozen oysters will cost pounds 10, and a pint of Guinness pounds 2.10. The view is free. Oysters served Mon-Fri 12 noon-5pm, to 9pm Sat, 2pm to 10.15 on Sun.

KENT: The rough edges at the Royal Native Oyster Stores. The Horsebridge, Whitstable (01227 276856) are not so much a problem as part of the point; this is an amiably chaotic seaside place serving seafood, rock oysters (and Natives in season). Approx pounds 15-pounds 20. Open lunch Tue-Sun, dinner Tue- Sat. Major credit cards.

LANCASHIRE: Star chef Paul Heathcote got his Michelin stars and reputation for a high-toned restaurant outside Preston. His name as a fun-boy will come from the jazzy new Heathcote's Brasserie, 23 Winckley Square, Preston (01772 252732). Here, in a downstair bar, Loch Fyne oysters are sold for 95p each; Murphy's Stout pounds 1.90/pint or country French white for pounds 10.25/bottle. Food served in bar 12noon-9pm Mon-Sat. Major credit cards.

STRATHCLYDE: Every other restaurant in the land serves Lock Fyne oysters. At Clachan Farm, Ardkinglas, Cairndow (01499 600236) one may eat them in situ in a bare-bones licensed restaurant. They cost pounds 4.80/dozen in the farm shop or sold for home delivery. Access, Visa, Diner's.

SUFFOLK: Years ago, the founder of The Butley-Orford Oysterage, Market Hill, Oxford (01394 450277) had the nous to seed oysters in Butley Creek. His oysterage (which also sells great smoked fish) is now a much loved Suffolk fixture. Restaurant open lunch daily 12 noon-2.15pm; dinner weekends 6pm-9pm. Shop sells Pacific oysters to take away at pounds 4.90/dozen.

Compiled by Ajax Paterson

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