Review of 'J Sheekey Fish and Sea Food Restaurant'

A personal favourite

Truly an institution of Covent Garden (Leicester Square) but discretely tucked away in a back alley around the corner from Leicester Square tube. You would be forgiven for not finding this hidden gem that has impeccable service and fantastic food - Specifically, sea food. Make no bones about it, this is a restaurant for food lovers with only a few items on the menu as a concession to meat eaters (there was a Scottish Venison as a “dish of the day” when we visited).

It is a crowded and pleasantly buzzing atmosphere inside as the door is opened for you by the doorman. Perhaps not as “art nouveau” as the Ivy in many ways Sheekey reminds me of the other Covent Garden institution located only a short walk away. The walls of Sheekey are lined with pictures of what I have to assume are famous people of the stage (though many are quite old I could only recognise a few).

We visited early on a Friday evening and were shown to our table in the room on the far left. There are several small rooms that comprise the restaurant - Each were busy when we visited.

The food is wonderful - Truly some of the best we have ever had. I always believe that the bread you are offered when you first arrive is a good indicator of the quality of the food to follow. In this case we were not let down and started off setting our sights very high indeed - A wonderfully dense white bread along with another dark, incredibly full, cob served with fresh butter. Heaven. Of course, this meant we started the meal with crumbs all over the tablecloth (why do restaurant's not give plates for the bread…? Answers on a post card, please).

Onto the meal. I started with “Potted Shrimps with wholemeal toast” (£10.75) which I was assured was “local” but not told exactly where the shrimps were from (presumably, as they were brown shrimps, they would have been from Morecambe Bay which is well known for them). They were fantastically fresh with a very suitable (but ample) butter filling. The bread was served warm interleaved in a napkin. For my main I had one of the trademark dishes of Sheekey: Their fish pie (£15.25) which was absolutely amazing. I have a confession. I am not a big fish fan. Believe it or not I do not actually enjoy cooked salmon (I like it raw, oddly enough, in sushi, just not cooked) but the few pieces of salmon in this pie were perfect as was the rest of the fish included. A few tender morsels of lobster and prawns were also wonderful cradled as it all was in a light cream sauce and a topping of light mashed potato and Parmesan cheese. The other trademark dish is their “fish & chips” (Fried Fillet of Haddock with chips and mushy peas, £17.50) which one of my fellow diners had - Incredibly fresh fish with an equally incredibly crispy batter with mushy peas to die for (simply crushed, fresh peas, with only a subtle hint of mint) and chips that were also delightful (golden brown and absolutely fluffy on the inside).

The desserts were quite varied and interesting. I had the “Roasted Black Figs with pine nut ripple ice cream” (£8) which was not bad with surprisingly subtle flavours - Except the figs which were very tart indeed. My companions had the “Hazelnut Crunch Ice Cream” (£6.75) and “Bramley Apple & Blackberry Crumble with cobnut shortbread” (£7) which were also as one would expect - Very good.

We did not partake of the reasonable selection of wines but rather stuck with sparkling water (and ginger ale) as an accompaniment which was a good choice as the flavours are fairly subtle for all of the dishes so this drink did not distract in any way.

The bill included a (discretionary) 12.5% service charge and came to about £32 per person which was quite a surprise for a dinner of this quality.

Most definitely worth another visit. I would suggest that this is for sea food lovers only.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2011-10-08

Cuisine: Sea Food

Address: 28-34 St. Martin's Court, London, ENGLAND WC2N 4AL

Public Transport: TUBE Leicester Square

Location: London (England) - Covent Garden



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Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7240 2565