Where’s London’s oldest seafood restaurant?…Sweetings…

Sweetings Restaurant (ground floor) in the Albert Buildings, Queen Victoria Street. PICTURE: Phil Beard (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

London’s oldest seafood restaurant is generally said to be Sweetings, the origins of which go back to the opening of John S Sweetings, Fish and Oyster Merchant, in Lad Lane, Islington, in 1830.

Additional premises at 159 Cheapside and 17 Milk Street soon followed, promoted as “Very Superior Oyster Rooms”. In 1889, Sweetings Restaurant opened at its present site at 39 Queen Victoria Street, inside the Grade II-listed Albert Buildings which was constructed in 1871 and the shape of which (if not the scale) has been compared to New York City’s Flatiron Building.

The food aside, Sweetings is famous for its signature ‘Black Velvet’, a mix of champagne and Guinness which was created in 1861 in response to the death of Prince Albert.

Famous patrons have reportedly included the French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as well as the late George Francis, reportedly an associate of the Kray twins, who is said to have offered £1 million to buy the restaurant (an offer which was refused).

For more, see www.sweetingsrestaurant.co.uk.