Latest opening: Pearly Queen

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Pearly Queen oyster restaurant Shoreditch Tom Brown chef

Related tags Pearly Queen Tom Brown Cornerstone Seafood Chefs

Chef Tom Brown’s follow up to his Michelin-starred Cornerstone restaurant is focused on oysters and tips its mother of pearl-decorated hat to London’s Pearly Queens (and Kings).

What:​ An oyster bar and restaurant just south of Spitalfields Market where ‘indulgence and fun is the catch of the day’. On Commercial Street, the 60-cover Pearly Queen has an upstairs that resembles a pub and a more vibe-y downstairs area.  

Who:​ Cornerstone chef patron Tom Brown. Originally from Cornwall, Brown cut his teeth under Rick Stein and Nathan Outlaw. He became a key lieutenant for the latter, leading the kitchen at his flagship (then in Rock) and latterly overseeing the multi-Michelin-starred chef’s London restaurant at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge. Brown opened his debut solo restaurant - which is named after an Arctic Monkeys song - in Hackney Wick in 2018. The 46-cover restaurant won a Michelin star in 2021. Pearly Queen’s head chef is Ireland-born chef Patrick Maher and the cocktail list is ‘curated’ by Max Venning of Dalston’s Three Sheets. 

The vibe:​ Pearly Queen occupies a handsome corner site with floor-to-ceiling windows and orange awnings. The upstairs is intended to reference the aesthetic of an East End boozer, although it’s rather more slick than that description might suggest with its concrete walls, exposed white-washed brick, brown leather bar stools and Mid Century-inspired dining chairs. Downstairs echoes some elements of the space above but is more clubby in feel and features works from high-profile London artist Reuben Dangoor, including a pink neon sign that reads ‘the world is yours’. 

The food:​ As you’d expect, oysters are Pearly Queen’s hero dish. These are either served raw with scotch bonnet hot sauce and lime or ‘dressed’. Options for the latter category include grilled oyster with peppercorn sauce; oyster pate with Champagne jelly; and the already Insta-famous crispy buffalo oyster with ranch dressing (pictured below). Other dishes on Brown’s creative menu include trout tartare with egg yolk and potato crisps; chilli crab, milk bread, dashi hollandaise; whole plaice with roast chicken butter sauce; and cuttlefish lasagna with Parmesan and tomato. Prices are a little lower than Cornerstone with dressed oysters priced at £5 each, most small plates ranging between £9 and £18 and large plates averaging out at £24.  


To drink:​ Still wines start at £37 per bottle and top out at £217 and £289 for white and red respectively. As you’d expect given the restaurant’s culinary focus there are more whites than reds. Venning’s cocktails include the Fucks Bizz (clementine, fig leaf, almond and English sparkling wine; and the eponymous Pearly Martini (Grey Goose vodka or Bombay Premier Cru gin with Picpoul, and pearl onion. 

And another thing:​ The restaurant’s name is a nod to the Pearly Queens (and Kings) of London, who famously wear clothes decorated with mother-of-pearl buttons. The costume is associated with raising money for London-based charities. A number of Pearly organisations still exist today. In fact, a parade of real-life Pearly Kings and Queens was part of the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony.

44 Commercial Street, London E1 6LT

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