I was at the opening of TV chef Mitch Tonks' new fish restaurant in Bristol last week, Rockfish Grill. Normally they serve you bubbly on these occasions and there was some - an appealing Prosecco - but what caught my eye was an oyster stout that Mitch and a mate who owns the Albert Inn at Bridgetown, near Totnes had brewed up between them.
It had been deliberately designed not to be too bitter: it was very smooth and velvety with a flavour reminiscent of espresso coffee. It didn’t apparently contain oysters (some oyster stouts do have oysters infused in the brew) but was simply a tribute to the times when working men would drink their stout with them (oysters being a cheap food).
As expected, it was a terrific match with the oysters that were served on the night (with shallot vinegar) though less so with some of the other fishy eats. They included crab crostini, prawn cocktail on lettuce leaves and deep fried sole goujons with tartare sauce, all of which paired rather better with the Prosecco. It would be good with fish, chips and mushy peas though - especially if the chips were sprinkled, traditional British seaside style, with malt vinegar! And I’ve enjoyed oyster stout with a creamy fish chowder.