Last night, in a bid to ward off the midweek blues, we took a trip to deepest darkest Bayswater to check out the latest addition to West London institution, Le Cafe Anglais. Set under a ludicrously gigantic art deco chandelier amid the restaurant's (somewhat Ivy-inspired) surrounds, we found ourselves enveloped by a sparkly new bar dedicated entirely to that most decadent of marine treats, oysters.
Plied with plenty of champagne and black velvet (an underwhelming mix of Guinness and champagne) we took our seats to sample a range of the slimy aphrodisiacs including Carlingford Rocks, Prestige Speciales, Fine Claires, Maldon Rocks, Kumamotos and Loch Ryan Natives - though to tell the difference between the types (particularly when loaded with lemon and shallots) would take the taste buds of a seasoned oyster aficionado.
Designed by Mike Stiff and Richard Blandy of Stiff + Trevillion, the marble-topped bar comes surrounded by some 20 stools, and is accompanied by a constellation of more intimate, red-leather coated banquettes, booths and tables.
If oysters aren't your thing, the main restaurant - which opened back in 2007 - has also undergone a bit of a refit, and with dishes such as meltingly delicious griddled scallops with pea purée, a creamy, potato-laced fish pie and pungent anchovy toasts accompanied by parmesan custard (all of which we had the pleasure of sampling in canapé form last night) provided by head chef Colin Westal, there's no need to endure the slimy stuff.
Le Café Anglais, 8 Porchester Gardens, London W2 4DB www.lecafeanglais.co.uk