Peter Morrell and his wife love the traditional atmosphere of this iconic seafood restaurant
I last went to J Sheekey when I took my daughter and her friends there to celebrate her 21st birthday and we had a very enjoyable lunch. As she is now in her early thirties a decade has past and I thought that it was time to go back to see if it had changed.
The restaurant is in St Martin’s Court, a small pedestrianised street, which is in the centre of London’s theatre district. Its location makes it the ideal venue for actors to pop in after a performance for a late evening meal. Over the years this celebrity patronage has made it a destination for the rich and famous. If you are an avid celeb spotter then your evening may be enhanced by dining in the company gossip column regulars.
The décor in J Sheekey is very much old school. There are a number of dining spaces and the one we sat in had wood-panelled walls covered with framed black and white photos of past celebrity diners. This décor gave the restaurant a cosy and intimate feel. The other old school element is the welcome provided by the charming maitre d’ and an impeccably dressed professional service team.
We were soon settled in, perusing the menu as we nibbled on an assortment of fresh bread and good quality butter. As you would expect the menu is dominated by seafood and fish. There were oysters from the UK, Ireland and France. scallops, mussels, clams, crab, lobster and caviar. Starters featured gravlax, mackeral, smoked salmon and much more. The mains continued the fish theme with J Sheekey’s signature fish pie, Dover sole and sea trout as examples. An impressive range!
If fish and seafood is not your thing don’t worry, there are vegetarian and meat options available.
To start my wife chose the char-grilled Cornish squid and I had the potted shrimps. When they arrived the dishes were well presented and generously sized. The squid was served with avocado, datterini tomatoes and a harissa paste. The squid was fresh and tender, the harissa a little too hot for my wife’s taste but that was a minor point.
My potted shrimps were excellent, a nest of flavourful brown shrimps bound with a buttery dressing and served with wholemeal toast.
For the mains my wife had the grilled and roasted mixed fish and my choice was the plateau de fruits de mer. The mixed fish was a medley of delicate fillets of the best the sea can offer. My fruits de mer was magnificent. A veritable cornucopia of shellfish including oysters, prawns, half a crab, tuna ceviche, clams, mussels and whelks. We both enjoyed the mains immensely and found them very satisfying.
The wine list was extensive with fine examples of red and wine from both the old and new worlds. The white burgundies were well represented and if you wanted red then the Bordeaux wines on offer were all good.
Our pairing for the meal was a white, a Touraine made by G. Allion in the Loire valley. The wine had good citrus notes mixed with fresh grass. The well-balanced acidity and minerality made it an ideal match for the fish.
Desserts were just too much for us but if you feel indulgent then Black Forest mille-feuille, Cru Virunga chocolate and passionfruit pavlova, and chocolate and salted caramel mousse are three of the many indulgent options, For those whose tastes are more savoury the cheeseboard of Bleu D’Auvergne, Brillat Savarin and Morbier is just the thing. Port, sherry, dessert wines and digestifs are also available.
All aspects of our visit to J Sheekey made it a memorable dining experience. The ingredients were of the highest quality, the service was professional and friendly and the ambience relaxing and stylish.
Next time I won’t leave it a decade before going back.
28-32 St Martin’s Ct,
London WC2N 4AL