Last Updated on June 22, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
The freshest seafood at Raw | Fish and Cocktails.
How often are you shopping on Oxford Street and just want to escape to a calmer place for a drink and a bite to eat? Raw | Fish and Cocktails is perfectly located for tired shoppers and those exploring Regent’s Park or Fitzrovia. But, it’s also a worthy destination – one you should go out of your way to find, not least because right now they have a great half-price food offer. We were invited along to find out more.
The friendly and casual vibe, with modern furniture and soft blues, slate grey and white decor together with a laidback soundtrack immediately set us at ease. As did the cocktail menu – with prices around £10 and a definite ‘sea’ theme. My nori pisco sour was a cocktail I’d admired from afar when we went to Raw’s sister restaurant in Brick Lane (currently closed) and it didn’t disappoint at all. A real pisco sour with an impressive foam and just the right amount of kick, complemented by a subtle saline note from the nori. My companion opted for the cocktail currently being developed – a limoncello spritz made with an equal measure of Limoncello and gin topped up with prosecco and served in a martini glass with a rim of crushed salty seaweed. Apart from looking stunning, she noted that the sweetness of the limoncello was perfectly offset by the dry gin and diluted by the prosecco to make a very satisfying and appropriate aperitif for a seafood menu.
We tried a couple of oysters with our cocktails, as you should. Truly delicious and ultra-fresh with a very light mignonette on the side, I’d have ordered more if we hadn’t been struggling to choose from the main menu. The bread came warm from the oven with a pat of rather delicious seaweed butter which we polished off in a trice.
The menu is made up of a number of sections, with small plates. We picked a couple of tempura dishes to start, along with salt cod croquettes. The Buns and Tempura section also has seafood buns made with the same bread we’d enjoyed at the start and filled with tuna tartare or cured salmon – an excellent option if you are hungry, as we learnt from last time since they are quite substantial.
The tiger prawns and salt & pepper Cornish cuttlefish were both served with spicy miso mayo. The prawns were tender and sweet and the cuttlefish soft and tender, sprinkled with Sichuan pepper. Both were coated in an excellent light batter and both were perfectly cooked. Very moreish, especially dipped in the batter and beautifully presented – the sort of food to order and share while you work your way through the Raw cocktail list.
We loved the salt cod croquettes made from salted cod loin and spicy miso mayo. A well-seasoned potato base with plenty of fish was complemented by a crisp panko crumb coating; the result was a light croquette, packed with flavour, with the miso mayonnaise lifting the dish beyond the sort of thing you or I might make at home!
Cuttlefish tagliatelle served with pappa al pomodoro San Marzano, Taggiasca olives and wild garlic leaves was the first of the dishes we picked from ‘The Sea’ section of the menu which comprises a series of small plates to share or enjoy by yourself. We thought it was a nice twist to serve the cuttlefish as “pasta”, but have learnt since that Italians would know what to expect. Once again, the quality of the ingredients shone through with delicious small sweet Ligurian olives complemented by the flavour packed San Marzano tomatoes. Definitely one to have again.
Wild Brill & ‘Nduja was excellent. The brill cooked perfectly with the njuda adding a spicy note and the sun-dried tomatoes complementing the dish well. This came with braised baby pak choi which brought a refreshing edge to the dish.
Sea urchin burrata comprised Sardinian sea urchin atop a fresh dollop of creamy burrata, drizzled with Capezzana olive oil and accompanied by finely sliced and grilled sourdough crostini. The burrata was the star ingredient here, so good we had to ask where it came from. It’s a Puglian speciality and sure enough, that was the source of this creamy mouthful. I’ve been to Capezzana in Tuscany and seen their olive oil (and wine) being made. I know it’s special!
We were also persuaded to try the best-selling Red Prawns Carpaccio with ponzu dressing and white truffle. And we were very pleased to have been encouraged to do so – the description on the menu really did not do it justice. A perfect delicate red prawn carpaccio lay beneath a generous blanket of white truffle shavings. Sublime.
As a side order, we enjoyed a tomato salad dressed with powdered seaweed. A nice, lightly acidic addition to the table.
We’d probably ordered more food than we needed and we’d been encouraged to try other dishes too, but nevertheless, the desserts arriving on the adjacent table were enough to tempt us. There are only two options – a coffee mousse with chunks of chocolate meringue and a light yuzu mousse with a citrus meringue.
Both were delicious but we wouldn’t have expected anything less by this stage.
By now we were completely full and ready to stagger home.
What makes this place so special is the really impressive and careful sourcing of ingredients. Of course, if you are eating raw fish you need excellent quality – but every element of every dish was carefully thought through and beautifully presented from the olive oil used through to the burrata and Sardinian sea urchin. The food, without discount, is modestly priced. I can’t think of anywhere else in London where you could get a generous plate of red prawns topped with white summer truffle for £14.50 – and with the current discount that dish is less than £8. It’s plenty for two to share too. Similarly, a proper burrata from Puglia will set you back more than the £6.50 that Raw fish and cocktails are charging at their discounted price. And that’s without the sea urchin topping.
We’ll definitely be back
Raw | Fish and Cocktails
110 Great Portland St,
London W1W 6PQ