It might be hidden behind a red-velour curtain, but Seymour’s Cocktails and Oysters is far removed from the sleaze that once defined Caxton Street. The New Orleans-inspired bar is the latest addition to the precinct’s list of gentrifying nightspots (see Statler and Waldorf, Brewski and Fritzenberger), and replaces the popular but short-lived Ginger’s Diner, a Korean eatery.
Ownership hasn’t changed, though. Jamie Webb, Jason Scott, and Simon Shearer are also behind Hope and Anchor, Sonny’s House of Blues and the neighbouring Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall. Webb says the trio reconceptualised the venue to better suit the crowds that descend upon Caxton Street on weekends and game nights.
“We wanted a place with some relation to Lefty’s, but a little more grown-up,” he says. The bar was influenced by a book of popular early-1900s New Orleans restaurants, as well as Storyville, that city’s red-light district at the time. “We were thinking, ‘Where would all the prostitutes go after a long day at work?’”
The inspiration is reflected in Seymour’s moody, incandescent lighting and early- to mid-1900s brass-band soundtrack. There’s a brass-topped bar to match. Booths line the wall opposite, above which mirrors and old posters hang in gilded frames. An upright piano in the corner is played on Fridays and Saturdays.
Seymour’s delivers on its promise, serving oysters by the half or full dozen. The options change daily, with between two to four varieties on offer. Other items on a concise bar menu include the spanner-crab pastry cigar, the grilled quail, and the lonza – cured meat with a poached egg and green-pea foam.
Head bartender Dan Gregory ensures that accompanying drinks are simple classics done well. Sazerac, a New Orleans whiskey cocktail, and the fruity, fluffy Gin Fizz, are must-tries. An eclectic wine list rounds out a comprehensive drinks selection, which includes an impressive choice of Scotch whisky.