Little Black Book of Dining: J Sheekey
Leicester Square: the centre of London’s theatreland.
It teams with tourists and is illuminated by garish steak house signs to entice pre and post-theatre diners. Not perhaps where you would expect to find high quality seafood and fine wine.
J Sheekey was founded in the 1890s, allegedly when Lord Salisbury made a deal with a local fish trading stallholder, allowing him to sell his fish on Lord Salisbury’s manor if meals were provided to his acquaintances before and after theatre trips. As has been the custom for over a century, we were warmly welcomed into the restaurant by a hatted doorman and immediately led to our table in one of many wood panelled dining caverns, bedecked with black and white photographs of iconic celebrities.
We started our evening with queen scallop ceviche and jewel-like pomegranate seeds. The scallops were tender, creamy and set off by the citrus dressing. As all J Sheekey fish is responsibly caught from sustainable sources, and given the dominance of sea life on the menu, we opted for piscine main courses to follow our starter. My Cornish fish stew with celery hearts and garlic aioli arrived in its very own serving pan brimming with brill, bream, bass, prawns and mussels. The British style bouillabaisse was rich and flavoursome with thyme and fennel punctuating the tomato base. The garlic aioli was a welcome addition, best slathered over the waxy potatoes hiding in the stew. My companion’s sea bass was equally impressive, beautifully filleted, and presented simply with golden seared skin. We drank a dry yet slightly buttery Chablis 2011 Domaine de Chaude Ecuelle which matched our food perfectly.
Dessert was entirely unnecessary after such a hearty main course but seemed too good to miss. Chocolate soufflé pudding with tangerine ice cream was extraordinary, with an oozing middle encased by a hybrid soufflé/sponge shell. The tangerine provided a tangy cooling contrast and surprise popping candy added another sensory dimension.
Every so often a restaurant reminds you what a good dining experience should entail. Each dish was faultless and the extensive menu provided a great variety of classic dishes alongside contemporary creations. Service was fantastic and achieved the rare balance of attentiveness without constant interruption.
All in all, J Sheekey is a must-go destination for fish fanatics and gets a rare five star rating from My Little Black Book.
The Finer Details
The Restaurant: J Sheekey, 28-32 St Martin’s Court, London WC2N 4AL
Suitability for Casual Dining: 5/5
Suitability for Corporate Dining: 4/5
Best For: Fresh fish bursting with flavour
The Damage: Around £90 for three courses (x2 people), excluding alcohol. Cocktails are from £10.50, with wine from £26 a bottle.
How to Book: Call 020 7240 2565 or click here