MTV boyfriend thinks that the only reasons I love oysters is that they are expensive. I admit that I do occasionally have expensive taste but can swear hand on heart that my love for oysters is solely based on their sublime taste of the sea. As soon as I heard that The Commander, a tired Notting Hill pub that had been closed for the past three months, was reopening as a North American style steak and oyster bar I had to get there straight away to try out their oysters.
The Commander has been transformed through the renovations to an elegant looking dining room with dark parquetry floors and an oyster bar with beautiful lead lighting. There is also a gourmet deli tucked away to the side of the dining room which sells fish from John Norris, meat from The Ginger Pig and flowers from Hayford and Rhodes.
The inclusion of the deli gives a hint of what is to come, alongside the standard menu there is a “Market Menu” that offers fish from John Norris or grilled meats from the Ginger Pig at “market price” (for an 8 ounce rib eye steak this was £6.06 which seemed about right). Edible flowers were not on offer but perhaps they are planning a move in that direction later. You then pay an additional £11.50 for preparation. The total price probably ends up being what you usually pay but this approach does emphasise the quality and provenance of the ingredients.
The wine list is also slightly quirky as it is helpfully divided into categories such as “light and juicy” which is pretty helpful if your wine knowledge is not that extensive. Even better, wine is also offered by the quarter, half and full carafe. The wine could come later though, I was having oysters so naturally I would be drinking champagne. Laurent- Perrier please. How else is a girl to celebrate the end of a month of non-drinking.
There were two choices of oysters and I decided on the Maldon Rock oysters which were served with a wedge of lemon and container of finely chopped shallots. They were excellent oysters: a slinky dose of the sea. MTV boyfriend even begrudgingly had one and had to admit that as far as oysters went, they were pretty good.
He tested out the “Market Menu” concept with the 8 ounce fillet steak which came served on runner beans with a Bearnaise sauce. The steak was excellent quality but slightly underdone (he had asked for medium rare but this steak was pretty blue). Given that The Commander had just opened and was offering a 25% off “soft opening” special, we saw this merely a sign of a teething problem by the kitchen and did not send it back.
My Fisherman’s pie was perfectly cooked. The creamy seafood filling was topped with a piping hot crust of golden potato. A simple side salad of sliced tomato topped with red onion and capers was a good accompaniment and keenly priced at only £2.50. Still I could not help but swipe a few of MTV boyfriend’s skin on fat chips which were served in a tiny little chip fryer basket. Gimmicky maybe, but the chips won me over.
Go and check out the new and much improved Commander. You can perch at the oyster bar for a few drinks or settle in for a three course meal in the dining room area. Either way, the ingredients are top notch and the menu offers an experience that is somewhat out of the ordinary in London.
Details: 47 Hereford Road, Bayswater, W2 5AH (Ph 020 7229 1503)