J. Sheekey

28-32 St Matrins COurt, London, England, WC2N 4AL, United Kingdom

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J. Sheekey is a curious place in many ways. It is cramped, with a low-ceilinged, wood panelled room covered with black and white photos of famous diners. It is a long way from the glitz of Cipriani et al, yet effortlessly attracts both media celebrities and a loyal following. The key to this success are a long and appealing seafood menu, decent ingredients, generally solid execution and slick service. The last time I came here I was sat next to Liv Tyler, and tonight we were graced with the presence of actor Christian Slater and fashion designer Matthew Williamson (no doubt amongst many others who I was not trendy enough to recognise), so the pulling power of this place for the well-heeled is not in doubt.

To start with I had tiger prawns with chilli and coriander dressing, the prawns cooked properly, the dressing with a little chilli bit but well controlled (14/20). Pickled herrings were pleasant (13/20), while half a dozen langoustines were served cold in their shells with a simple mayonnaise; they were cooked properly and of good quality (14/20). The only slip in the starters were chewy razor clams, where even the chorizo and padron peppers could not conceal the rubbery texture of the clams (11/20). Smoked haddock was well made, served on colcannon with a poached egg as garnish and an enjoyable grain mustard sauce (good 14/20 level).

My haddock and chips featured a large piece of good quality haddock, in a batter that was cooked a fraction too hard in the fryer, but still perfectly pleasant. This was served with good mushy peas but surprisingly dull chips that were simply not crisp enough (overall 13/20). Best was a simple grilled Dover sole, fresh and timed very well (easily 15/20). Also good were French beans with onions as a side dish.

For dessert rhubarb crumble was enjoyable, with the tartness of the rhubarb not overwhelming, the crumble having good texture (14/20). Scandinavian iced berries with white chocolate is a stalwart at the Ivy and here, and my companion who is a veteran of this dish pronounced it slightly below par though still good (13/20). Honeycomb ice cream had good flavour (15/20). I am no expert on honey , but it seemed a well-made dish to me (14/20). Coffee seemed oddly bitter to me (11/20).

The wine list is manageably short, mostly French but with a few good selections from elsewhere. Mark-ups are not generous but neither are they by any means high by central London standards. A Tokaji 6 puttonyos dessert wine seemed to be barely twice retail price, for example. Starters are mostly £9 - £12, main courses vary from £12.75 to £39.50, vegetables are extra at £3.50 - £5, and desserts are £6.50 - £9. I can see why this place does well; the habits of celebrities are a mystery to me, so I have no idea why it seems a media hang-out, but I suspect the unobtrusive and careful service is at the heart of this. The rest of us can at least enjoy a decent piece of properly grilled fish in central London.

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  • alan fowle

    Comment on Sheekeys seems almost superfluous, on our last visit there this week - a Monday evening it was packed, the service was smart and efficient, you are greeted on arrival and leaving - as you should be - the food is a series of old favourites well executed the puddings never have been the star but after oysters, crab bisque - a large portion delicious taste- and lobster thermidor a pleasure plenty of lobster, sauce perfect ,chips perhaps in Andyspeak just 2/10 on this occasion- not much room for dessert. Been coming here since the start in its new form if we are undecided which new place to visit we come here and are never let down. I would have said its a banker but its a word you dare not whisper these days, lets say its reliable and fun. Occasionally they add to the old photos on the walls, the oyster bar perfect for a demi douzaine and a glass of champagne - you can normally just walk in no need to book.