Last Updated on September 21, 2021
Something fishy’s happening in Soho!
I love Amsterdam. It’s a sophisticated yet fun and down to earth city and its location right next to the North Sea makes it a haven for seafood lovers. One of my favourite things to do there is to go to a herring stall and gobble up a soused herring (pickled in salt with some finely chopped onions and pickles. So I had a feeling that I was in for a treat when I was asked to review Amsterdam’s beloved The Seafood Bar in its new Soho site.
It sits in Dean St. where the Indian Restaurant The Red Fort had been for over 3 decades and as a seafood fanatic, I was very pleased to be asked along to cover the press launch for London Unattached.
The Grade 2 listed Georgian townhouse interior has been transformed into a contemporary space that can accommodate up to 190 covers. It is light, bright, airy and also very buzzy with the theatre of the seafood preparation very much centre stage. There are white walls, industrial ducting, a pale wooden floor, oyster-coloured banquettes and a long bar built on white wooden slats. There is also a well-designed area in the basement, so often an afterthought.
Rather charmingly The Seafood Bar is a family-run venture founder in 2012. The original Amsterdam restaurant was opened by Fons de Visscher, a fishmonger who had run his business for 27 years in his home town of Helmond. Fons and his family were on site to welcome us all in with a glass of Belstar Cuvée Rosé Sparkling NV from the Veneto in Italy which had delicious cherry and floral notes. At The Seafood Bar, there is a great emphasis on using sustainable, additive-free, organic and FairTrade products when possible. The UK side of the operation is using Wright Brothers as the main supplier for its seafood to ensure freshness. The menu is extensive with sections for starters, soup, grilled fish, caviar, crustaceans, mussels, seafood plateaux, mixed grill, fruits de mer, oysters, fish and chips and sides! We were then served what I can best describe as a seafood feast for us to try from a wide selection of dishes from the menu. But things started simply with some tangy, fresh, hot sourdough served in a paper bag.
And then our first Plateau arrived bearing clean-tasting Maldon rock oysters and a pint or so of shell-on prawns. The Maldon rocks slipped down very easily especially with a dash of sauce mignonette and I am ashamed to say that I guzzled down all the prawns. Perfect dipped into a pot of mayo!
It’s easy to build up a thirst when peeling prawns. We tried the citrus and melon notes of a Spanish Mille951, Gavi DOCG del Comune di Gavi from Cortese. It was perfect with the seafood. A Virgin & Tonic made with the non-alcoholic Seedlip distilled spirit, Fevertree Indian tonic and grapefruit was refreshing and packed more of a punch than a booze-free cocktail should.
Next up was a dish of juicy shrimp, slathered in garlic butter. It was succulent and rich and somehow very decadent.
I really enjoyed the plate containing a pot of clean-tasting crab mayo, some good quality thick-cut smoked salmon and my favourite, a dense fillet of full-flavoured smoked trout.
Nothing beats the theatre of a Fruits de Mer platter and this didn’t disappoint bringing together razor clams, brown shrimp, crab salad, shrimp, cockles, whelks and crayfish. What could be more fun!
From the seafood bar and the mixed grill came a giant plate of juicy mussels grilled king prawns, nicely charred squid, a perfectly cooked salmon fillet, a fried fillet of lemon sole, a meaty slip sole, some super fresh langoustines and the tour de force – half a grilled Lobster! After this amazing meal, we were treated to a coffee and a couple of excellent salt caramel bonbons together with some gooey fruit macarons.
Now I’m hoping to revisit The Seafood Bar and order off the menu. I want to try the lobster soup and the grilled king prawns in garlic and lemon!
If you’re looking for a fun and informal seafood place in the West End that is reasonably priced then The Seafood Bar certainly fits the bill. It would also be a great place for a family or work-based party.
The Seafood Bar
77 Dean St
Looking for something different in Soho? We also love The Noble Rot where you’ll find an extensive wine list complemented by excellent food with a French twist.