Wednesday, 21 July 2010

J. Sheekey

J. Sheekey, the fish and seafood specialist hidden just off St Martin's Lane, is the equally successful but never-quite-as-famous sibling of Scott's in Mayfair; Maggie Gyllenhaal to Scott's' Jake. It's also one of my absolutely favourite restaurants of all time, ever. 

From my first visit about eight years ago with my then boyfriend to last night's brief but wonderful visit with my gorgeous friend Caroline, it's never disappointed, and while the prices might occasionally cause a sharp intake of breath - I'm still in therapy from the time I blithely said to mum 'Now don't worry about the prices, you just order what you like' only for her to 'like' half a lobster and the roasted mixed shellfish -  there are some comparative bargains to be had.

During July and August, if you eat pre-theatre as Caroline and I did - Sheekey's is perfectly located for it - their superlative fish and chips and a glass of house wine can be had for just £15.75, about the same as at Brown's just across the courtyard except at Brown's there isn't a top-hatted doorman to greet you. From the a la carte menu, the justifiably famous fish pie is a very reasonable £13.50 and is pleasingly biased towards the piscine side of the filling/topping axis. At weekends, there's a set lunch menu offering three courses for a very fair £25.50.

What I'd really recommend however is that you save Sheekey's for those special occasions - anniversaries, birthdays, BAFTA wins - when you or whoever's paying feel inclined to blow the budget and you can indulge yourself in the full array of sparklingly fresh oysters, perfect crustacea and finest fish caught that day, along with a bottle or two from the excellent and not-too-terrfiyingly-priced wine list

As well as superb food you'll enjoy superlative service, handsome decor and, if star spotting's your thing, no doubt a glimpse of a theatrical dame or motion picture knight or two. Booking's a bugger but worth persevering at; if you can't stand the struggle the more informal Oyster Bar next door doesn't require (but accepts) reservations and keeps some seats free for walk-ins.

The smart wood panelling, contemporary art and black and white photos of stage and screen stars through the ages make Sheekey's a very grown-up place (although children are welcome I've never seen any) and if there's anything to criticise about it - and I really do struggle to think of anything - it's that the atmosphere might at times feel a little too hushed and the general ambience a little too formal for some tastes. While there's always a sense of celebration in the air here, as a venue it's neither suited to nor intended for boisterous parties or casual dining; it's a serious place serving serious food, and photography - of others or of one's meal - would be as welcome as a bone in the filleted Dover sole.

Other restaurants might be more fun, or creative, or accessible than J. Sheekey, but very few indeed are actually better. I hope that you'll try it, and that when you do you'll love it as much as Maggie loves Jake.

J. Sheekey, 28-32 St. Martin's Court, London WC2N 4AL Tel: 020 7240 2565 

J Sheekey on Urbanspoon

Square Meal


  1. I don't give two hoots about star spotting, but food like this I would quite happily beat down the door for. Bless your mum too, she sounds like my kind of person.

  2. I have always wanted to go and have never been lucky enough- it's sad isn't it! I think a nice young man should take me. Love the Maggie to Jake thing- I LOVE her- and him, differently.

  3. What a lovely evening and what great value. I am a real stickler for 'personal touches' and so, when they presented me with a fresh chilled glass of iced water as soon as I sat down, I was delighted. The bread, too, absolutely gorgeous.

  4. Chris - me neither as a general rule, and I actively avoid known 'celeb haunts', but seeing someone really notable, a Dench or a Gambon say, can add a little extra sparkle to the experience. As for mum, she is indeed an absolute star albeit an expensive one to feed.

    Rose - Thank you, and I do hope you find a young man to take you! How about asking Chris?

    Caroline - Of course! How could I have neglected to remember that. Yes, fantastic attention to detail and indeed, *amazing* bread!

  5. I went to J.Sheeky last Friday and as it was early (and 'Fish Friday'!) I was tempted to try the great value pre-theatre F&C's.... Verdict = disappointing!! Food was just not to the high standard I have experienced there before and even the service was a little slow. The restaurant itself, whilst being perfectly quintessential, was rather stiff. I like a place with more atmosphere - zsa zsa zu!?! Would be interested to try again for dinner later in the evening. Maybe I just arrived on an off day? However, I do LOVE their oyster bar and agree about the fish pie... best I ever tasted. Hit the bar for late supper and and polish off the delish dish with a crisp dry white. It's much more informal, a little friendlier. Better still food a bit cheaper too! Go with a handsome man on your arm and seriously it's one of my fave things to do in London...Yum!

  6. I'm with you on this one too, Hugh; I love the place (although I prefer Scott's). £15 for fish and chips and a glass of wine is quite a deal!

  7. Your mum sounds ace. Well, you did say...


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