Victorian London - Food and Drink - Restaurants - Oyster-shops and restaurants

Those were the days of supper, for at that time a beneficent Legislature had not ordained that, at a certain hour, no matter how soberly we may be enjoying ourselves in a house of public entertainment, we were to be turned into the streets. There were many houses which combined a supper with a dinner business; there were some which only took down their shutters when ordinary hard-working people were going to bed. Among the former were the oyster-shops - Quinn's in the Haymarket; Scott's, facing that broad-awake thoroughfare; a little house (name forgotten) in Ryder Street - not Wilton, who closed at twelve; Godwin's, with the celebrated Charlotte as its attendant Hebe, in the Strand near St. Mary's Church. Godwin's was occasionally patronized by journalists and senators who lived in the Temple precincts: the beaming face of Morgan John O'Connell was frequently to be seen there; and Douglas Jerrold would sometimes look in. Charlotte was supposed to be one of the few who had ever silenced the great wit : he had been asking for some time for a glass of brandy-and-water; and when at length Charlotte placed before him the steaming jorum, she said, "There it is, you troublesome little man; mind you don't fall into it and drown yourself." Jerrold, who was very sensitive to any remarks upon his small and bent figure, collapsed. 
    Other famous oyster-houses of that day, as they are of this, were Lynn's in Fleet Street, Pimm's in the Poultry, and Sweeting's in Cheapside; but they were all closed at night. Restaurants where the presence of ladies at supper was encouraged rather than objected to were the Café de l'Europe, in the large room at the back (the front room, entered immediately from the street, was reserved for gentlemen, and will be mentioned elsewhere), and Dubourg's, already mentioned, the proprietor of which - a fat elderly Frenchman, his portly presence much girt with gold watch-chain - was a constant attendant at the Opera, and was well known to the roués of the day.

Edmund Yates, His Recollections and Experiences, 1885
[chapter on 1847-1852]

see also George Sala in Twice Round the Clock - click here

Oysters—The best places for oysters are Rule’s, in Maiden-lane, at the back of the Adelphi and Vaudeville; Lynn’s, about the middle of the south side of Fleet-street ; Smith’s, in the Strand, near the Lyceum ; Wilton’s, Ryder-street St James’s ; Pimm’s, in the Poultry; Sweeting’s, Cheapside;  and, on a more modest and primitive scale, the “Whistling Oyster”, in Vinegar-yard, Drury-lane. There is a good-looking oyster now being largely sold about London as a “Blue Point”. Unwary Americans—if such there be – may as well understand beforehand that this is strictly a nom de fantaisie.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

see also George Sims in Living London - click here