When one thinks of old fashion glamour, high quality and flavorful seafood, and timeless charm, only one place comes to mind in London—J Sheekey. It is one of London’s oldest restaurants and is still as busy as ever serving quality seafood to theater-goers from West End.
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J Sheekey has been in London for over 121 years. It was started by Josef a market stall holder who in 1896 was given permission by Lord Salisbury to sell fish and shellfish in St Martin’s Court provided he served meals to Salisbury’s theatre-going pals. J Sheekey’s identity as a post-theatre culinary destination still lives today as renowned people such as Kevin Spacey, Keira Knightley, Poppy Delevingne, the Beckhams, Jude Law, Kate Moss and Bradley Cooper have been seen enjoying their famous fish pie after show time. So of course, I decided I had to get a taste of this famous English pie that has stuck around through thick and thin.
This Victorian-styled seafood haven is found on a side-alley right outside of one of West End’s theaters. In the summer, outside the blue colored entrance windows, tables are lined up with elegant chairs for people to enjoy a wonderful outdoor seafood meal. It was fall when I visited, (which made fish pie even more ideal for the cold weather!) so we opted to sit indoors. Prices at J Sheekey are affordable for seafood and have an interesting English take, which is not something that is easy to come by.
Enter and warm wood paneling surrounds you, vintage showbiz black-and-white portraits showcasing celebs that have stopped by the restaurant, and romantic seating enclaves. Pat and I had not made a reservation so got seated at the Atlantic Bar, marble-topped, swivel-chair lined bar that feels straight out of a retro movie. To be quiet honest, I found I just as romantic a seating area as the private booths.
ENTREE: CRAB BISQUE
As an entrée, we ordered a dreamy and rich crab bisque shot through with Cognac and a touch of cream. The Cognac perfectly captured the intense seafood crab flavor you hope for in bisque. The soup was velvety smooth and although it had cream, it was almost undetectable, light and fresh.
MAIN COURSE: FISH PIE
The Sheekey fish pie is almost as famous as some of its customers and is considered a true theatre dish. J Sheekey keeps the recipe simple without any of the added peas, prawns, or lobster that other recipes might add. The velvety cream sauce layered on top of salmon makes for the ultimate cold weather dish. The thick and crispy potato layer added even more comfort to the already hearty fall meal.
MAIN COURSE: SEA BASS WITH CLAMS
While I opted for J Sheekey’s more renowned dish, fish pie, Patrick went for the sea bass with clams pictured above. Needless to say, the Sea bass vanished in seconds followed by the juicy clams. Whether it’s the fish pie or sea bass, J Sheekey still stands as one of the best seafood restaurants in London.
DIGESTIVO: PORT WINE
Our favorite alcohol of choice to pair with dessert has to be Port wine. For those of you who haven’t had Port, you must try it. It is not your typical red wine. It is sweet, with stronger alcohol content. They may not come cheap, but a glass will cleanse the palate and is the perfect accompaniment to chocolate truffles. The key to the perfect Port wine and chocolate pairing is the stronger the chocolate, the bolder the wine.
DESSERT: CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
We ordered an assortment of six chocolate truffles to go along with our Port wine. The truffles were more on the sweet end, rather than the dark intense end and varied from hazelnut to caramel and dark chocolate. Creamy and elegant, the truffles were soft with a melt-in-your mouth filling and a rich chocolate coating. Delicious on every level.
Whether you are looking for a casual dining experience at the Atlantic Bar or a romantic evening in an booth, J Sheekey has got you covered. There is nothing better than fresh seafood and a glass of wine to transport you back to the late 1800s, it’s bound to reel you in.
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