The Bank Holiday weekend was marked by some serious indulgence, even by my standard. It kicked off in some style with two consecutive meals at the sainted Magdalen. My father says I'm only allowed to write new reviews, though, so I can't tell about how I finally tried the thinly sliced pig's head and how great it tasted, nor about the fact that they changed the planned Saturday lunch menu for my benefit because I cooed over the longhorn with anchovy sauce the night before when they brought it over by mistake. Fortunately I can't tell you how I managed to shower the anchovy sauce all over my shirt the next day either...
Sunday's treat was a brace of pot roasted chickens with sweet potatoes and other great veg over at Neil and Jaq's in Notting Hill. Perfect for a spring day sadly lacking the warmth and sunshine April brought us.
And so to Bank Holiday Monday, and a long-planned trip to see a recording of Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue at the Coliseum. Much to dad's consternation I hadn't booked anywhere for the early supper we'd planned to get us in the mood. This was basically because I was struggling to think of anywhere to go - you're not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to decent food in that neck of the woods. I hadn't, though, considered J Sheekey, probably because I'd never been and didn't know exactly where it was. What are fathers for if it's not to help you out of such a dilemma, though?
On the old man's suggestion, then, I tentatively put a call in... and was met with exactly the level of charm and reassurance you need when you know you're going to be eating to a timetable: which theatre are we going to? What time does the show start? Suggest you try to arrive at 5:30 then, if you can, sir.
The menu at J Sheekey is fish fish fish. There's a small note to the effect that meat dishes are available on request, but honestly, who'd want to? My baby squid cooked in its own ink was divine, Alice's Irish smoked salmon was generous and full flavoured, dad's Mersea oysters hardly touched the side and mum struck gold with her Arbroath smokie salad: a teetering stack of endive spears each one topped with a still runny quails egg and a portion of tender smoked fish. For mains there were chunky fishcakes for mum, great fried haddock for me, a stunningly simple and perfectly cooked gilt-head bream for Alice and a fish pie for dad which he told mum was "not as good as yours." Creep. As far as I could tell, the only real letdown was the chips that came with my haddock: soggy and unworthy of a place as good as this. The crushed (rather than mushy) peas that came with it made up for them, though.
We washed all this down with a couple of bottles of Bourgogne Aligoté from the the foothills of a list that climbed quickly and confidently up to the thirty quid mark and never looked back. Prices for the food ranged from the very reasonable (most of the standard fish dishes) to the frankly bewildering (a starter of the much prized Severn elvers clocked in at a cool £35). Overall, though, this is top quality food at standard London prices. I'll be back...
J Sheekey, 28-32 ST Martin's Court, WC2N 4AL 020 7240 2565