Oyster Masterclass at Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited along to an Oyster Masterclass at Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, Piccadilly, London.  The Oyster Masterclass gives you the opportunity to learn all about oysters, shuck them, pair them with wines, and of course eat plenty of them in a relaxed and informal environment.

The Oyster Masterclass is held once a month at Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill and costs £65 per person.  They last for about an hour and a half and include free flowing champagne and wine and as many oysters as you can eat!  The nice thing about them is the maximum class size is 14 as you all sit around the long bar.  Cosy and informal and a great way to get to know other people and have fun in a relaxed environment.Oyster Masterclass at Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill, Piccadilly, London by Emma Eats & Explores

We arrived to a warm welcome and were shown to the long bar.  Starting with a glass of champagne definitely got us in the mood for a fun couple of hours ahead.  We were introduced to our hosts for the afternoon Fred & Helio – Oyster Shucking Aficionados and definitely the experts on all things oyster related.  With over 25 years of experience between them, they know what they’re talking about!Oyster Masterclass at Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill, Piccadilly, London by Emma Eats & ExploresThe class began with an introduction about the types of oysters served at Bentley’s.  Richard Corrigan, the owner, is a staunch supporter of all things British and loves local produce so the only Oysters sold in his restaurant come from around the British Isles.  Today we were getting to taste one type of Native Oyster and two different types of Rock Oysters.  This basically means wild oysters and farmed or cultivated ones.

The Native Oysters that we got to taste were from West Mersea in Essex and they were up first.  I learned that Native Oysters can only be eaten for 6 months of the year.  It’s illegal to catch them during summer as this is the time when they reproduce so you only get wild oysters in the colder months.

Oyster Masterclass at Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill, Piccadilly, London by Emma Eats & Explores

You can see the difference between the two types of oysters here – Native Oysters are the darker flatter ones and the more domed, lighter ones covered in barnacles are the Rock Oysters.

Oyster Shucking

Fred and Helio expertly shucked some of the oysters and gave them to us to taste.  They described the best way to eat them – lemon juice and a tiny bit of black pepper.  I can honestly say I’ve never had a better oyster.  That Native Oyster was so fresh and firm and meaty, and they were right, lemon and black pepper is definitely the way forward.  If you prefer there is shallot vinegar and even tabasco if you want it (although don’t let Helio see you do that!)

Then it was over to us and our turn to have a go at shucking them!  We had a special block to hold the oysters.  Much easier than the way they were doing it in their hands!  We still had to stand up to get some force behind opening them!  They’re slippery little suckers but  you know what – the expert tuition worked.  Not quite as neat as theirs but I did it without too much trouble.  I even impressed myself.

I then had a go with a couple more but it just seemed easier (lazier) to sit back and chat with the other guests while Fred and Helio opened them for us!  With the champagne free-flowing this was no hard task!

Oyster Masterclass at Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill, Piccadilly, London by Emma Eats & Explores

After trying the Native Oysters it was time to try The Rock Oysters.  Two different types that came from Dorset and Carlingford in Ireland.  I’m no oyster expert, but even I could tell the difference.  They were softer, less firm and meaty and slightly more watery in flavour.  During the class you get given an ‘Oyster Passport’ so you can record which ones you loved and which not so much!

Helio also opened a bottle of the House Wine – the Picpoul de Pinet for us to try as he wanted to show that oysters pair just as well with white wine as they do with the classic champagne.  He was right, the crisp acidity of the Picpoul really did match perfectly with the salty, almost metallic taste of the oysters.

Cooked Oysters

Then, just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more oysters, (I must have eaten between 8 and 10!)  out came a tasting plate of cooked oysters.  Done in so many different ways, they were baked, fried, marinated and served with spinach, hollandaise, garlic, chorizo etc

Completely different to the fresh oysters, each was delicious in it’s on right, but it only really tasted of the sauce or the way it had been cooked.  It had lost the fresh, saltiness that comes with the raw ones.  I have to say though, I absolutely loved the baked oyster with spinach and hollandaise sauce and the deep-fried oyster with chorizo and caramelised shallots!

All too soon the class was over but it really was a wonderful way to spend a few hours.  I loved it so much that I even booked my boyfriend and I in for a tasting plate of oysters for a Valentine’s Day treat.  Very informative and educational and above all fun.  This Oyster Masterclass at Bentley’s would make a great date idea, or a gift for a foodie friend!  Feeling a little bit tipsy I made my way home.  Now I’m looking forward to returning for more of the same on Valentine’s night!

The Oyster Masterclass  at Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill is held once a month  and costs £65 per person.  They last for about an hour and a half and include champagne on arrival, oyster master class and tasting with sommelier matched wines. You will also get to take home a goody bag with apron, recipe cards and oyster knife.  For more information or to book a class, visit this link

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  1. I love cooking classes. It’s interesting that this one was at a restaurant, I haven’t seen that before (or at least not advertised). How did you find out about it?

  2. I’ve been wanting to take a cooking class for ages! One of my fave restaurants offers one, I should really look into it.

  3. This would be a fun class! I wish I liked oysters though. I’ve just never found a taste for them but my husband likes them!

    • haha – yeah, they don’t mind really, they know everyone has different tastes, they were just pretending to be shocked!

  4. I would love to attend a cooking class where I can be able to learn a lot of dishes especially from the super tasty oyster. I will check my schedule next month and see if I can make it.

  5. It’s not fair! You have all the fun! LOL I’d love to do something like this. I liked the special holder you had for the oysters. I’d be worried about somehow accidentally cutting myself.

    • It was really good fun – we had such a nice time – already planning on taking another friend in a few months!

  6. They definitely know their oysters! Both the fresh and the cooked looks amazing! It’s a place that’s worth going to.

  7. Would you believe I’ve never tried oysters? Great post though! I think it must be amazing. I really want to learn more about cooking and making more food. Masterclasses like this sound fun! Bring me the wine…x

  8. As a foodie, this is definitely my type of experience, especially considering the bottomless champagne. I would certainly enjoy my fair share of oysters as well.

  9. Sounds like a brilliant experience! Although I don’t eat shellfish now I used to work in an oyster bar many moons ago (and quite liked eating the odd one!)

    • Apparently like ‘kissing the sea’ if you want to be poetic haha! I think they taste fresh and salty with a hint of sweetness and a tiny bit metallic

  10. I worked at an oyster bar while supplementing my income after college. I loved shucking oysters, it took awhile for me to get the hang of it but once I did there was no stoping me. This sounds like an excellent class Emma, all you can eat oysters sounds too good to be true. Those cooked oysters look divine. I had to pin this 🙂

  11. What a fantastic time you had! Anything to do with oysters has got to be a lot of fun! We hold and Oysters and Champagne Masterclass in our school once a months that’s extremeky popular!

  12. The food looks amazing! I would love to visit and try it. I have never eaten oysters but I am willing to try something new!

    • Not my first time, but the first time that I really loved them! Before the class I could just take them or leave them!

  13. Oysters are so good, I really like them with a little lemon juice and some raw shallots. The food looks amazing all of it.

  14. I have never taken a cooking class before but it looks and sounds like a lot of fun! I will have to research and see if they have something like this in my area.

  15. My mouth is watering by looking at these photos!!! I love oysters and this sounds like an awesome class!!

  16. I’ve never been in a cooking class. I need to try it, it looks fun and it’s a great way to get out of my comfort zone hahah x

  17. I love oysters, this sounds like so much fun! I only use fresh lemon juice on my oysters, will definitely have to try it with a little pepper also. Thanks for the tip!

  18. Cleaning an oyster can be very tricky and learning this task from the very best is quite interesting. Although i am a vegan I would still love to learn this art of cleaning and cooking oysters for special occasions.

  19. That is such an interesting idea for a masterclass. I know there are people who are just devoted to oysters who would love to learn so much about the different types of oysters and how to shuck and prepare them. It sounds like you really enjoyed yourself and the staff at Bentley’s did a fantastic job.

  20. What a great evening. I don’t think I’ve ever tried an oyster, but I would love to go to a place like this and have this experience. I’m sure i would come away with a new love for this food

  21. I have NEVER tried Oysters but have always wanted to. They don’t look very appealing and I don’t like slimey things but so many people rave about them that I still want to pluck up the courage to try them one day!! The bar and grill at Bentley’s looks fabulous, maybe that would be the perfect place to give them a try! xxx

    • I’ve had them quite a few times and honestly these were the best Ive had – you should give them a go!

    • You should give them a go – they look less enticing than they taste – and these were the meatiest and least slimiest Ive ever had – delicious!!!

  22. This sounds like a very cool class to take my spouse. I have tried different type of oysters and I must say, Oyster’s is not my thing. Thanks for sharing and now, I have another place to surprise my spouse for birthdays and anniversary!

  23. Interesting. All though I could never bring myself to actually try an oyster this was def an interesting read 🙂

  24. This sounds like a lot of fun and what a different way to spend a day. I didn’t realise oysters were cooked so many different ways, well done on your shucking