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Test Driving J Sheekey - a London institution celebrating its 125th birthday

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewThe new look 'winterised' terrace - we took this shot before they added in the glazing that's going to make this a lovely snug space at any time of the year.

So what do we need to know about J Sheekey?

If you haven't dined at this classic seafood restaurant in Covent Garden, then here's a potted history. The restaurant's named after founder Josef Sheekey who started as an oyster trader in the late 1800s in Mayfair's Shepherd Market. In 1896 he opened Sheekey's which means that it's celebrating its 125th birthday this year.

Sheekey's position, in the heart of London's theatreland quickly meant it found favour with theatregoers and actors alike. Even today, it's a regular haunt of stars popping in for a bite to eat post-performance. 

Where is it?

It's just off Charing Cross Road close to Leicester Square tube - down St Martin's Court.

If it's been around for over a century, why are you visiting it now?

In addition to us wanting to celebrate any London restaurant that's both survived and thrived this long, Sheekey's took advantage of the various lockdowns to have a bit of a makeover for its birthday. That involved turning its terrace into a fully weatherproofed space, complete with retractable roof, that'll be open all year round.

It's also seen them bring the spin-off The Atlantic Bar to a close. That took up about half of the building which has now become an extension of the main J Sheekey restaurant, getting a redesign in the process.

Where should we sit?

Our preferred spot is up at the bar in the main restaurant. Others prefer a table in one of the four interconnected dining rooms. What was The Atlantic Bar should quickly become a popular area to book, with new booths that look out onto the front terrace. 

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewOne of the new booths in the space that used to be the Atlantic Bar

The menu's presumably seafood-based?

It is, with shellfish, a legendary fish pie and more taking pride of place. While you have plenty of non-seafood dishes to choose from, you'll get the most from the menu if you stick with the sea. 

Here's a taster.

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewPrawn Tempura with togarashi pepper & Korean spiced mayonnaise (£16.50) - wafer-thin tempura batter make these seriously moreish. 

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewYellowfin Tuna Tartare with spiced avocado and a nori cracker (£14.50) - we'll be honest, we hadn't spotted it was fish-shaped until we looked at our photos after... 

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewCornish Slip Soles with sauce vierge & wild sea herbs (£30)

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewGrilled Dover Sole with Meunière sauce (£44) - presented first off, the bone, then expertly filleted and returned so it's all done for you.

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewThe legendary fish pie (£19.50) which we've personally had in the restaurant on multiple occasions (this was from a visit before one of the lockdowns last year). 

What about sides?

A special mention has to be made for Sheekey's mash...

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewThe butteriest, creamiest mash known to mankind.

Room for dessert?

There should be - because you'll find it hard choosing between dishes like these...

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewIce cream collection - scoops of raspberry ripple, strawberry and salted caramel (£8)

j sheekey restaurant covent garden reviewJ Sheekey caviar sweet tin (£9) - if you only order one dessert make it this one, a collection comprising salted caramel truffle, coffee truffle, passionfruit truffle, milk chocolate fish and passionfruit pate de fruit on a bed of dark and dulce crispy chocolate balls.

And to drink?

Wine is where your bill will ramp up with many bottles in the £60+ range (although £30 is the entry point). But there's also a decent selection by the glass, and if you're looking to go for a special bottle then hit up the Sommelier's Selection - a range of rare bottles like a 2016 Penfolds for £320 or a 2013 Montrachet for £600.

Summing up

Whether this is one of your favourite restaurants in London (like it is ours), or you've never been, this couldn't be a better time to head to Sheekey's. It's looking lovelier than ever inside and out following its lockdown makeover and there's something truly magical about this London institution. Go, be cossetted, and raise a glass to their 125th birthday.

 

More about J. Sheekey

Where is it? 28-32 St Martin’s Court, London WC2N 4AL

How to book: Book J Sheekey

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @jsheekeyldn

Hot Dinners dined as guests of J Sheekey. Prices correct at the time of publication. 

 

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