Ask A Regular: The Inside Track On J Sheekey
Photograph by Ms Sim Canetty-Clarke, courtesy of J Sheekey
Fortnum & Mason’s Mr Simon Thompson on Covent Garden’s legendary fish restaurant.
There is only so much a critic’s review can tell you about a restaurant. Often written after a fleeting visit or two, however thorough the write-up, it can’t divulge the type of detail or convey the level of emotion that a devotee can. Only a regular can properly understand how a restaurant ticks, and tell you with confidence how to get the most out of it. With this in mind, for a new feature series, we decided to ask members of our Style Council to give us the inside track on some of their favourite haunts. First up: J Sheekey – the legendary fish restaurant based in London’s Covent Garden and one of the city’s oldest establishments. A popular suggestion in the Style Council address book, we asked Mr Simon Thompson – retail and hospitality director for department store Fortnum & Mason – for some tips on getting the most out of a dinner reservation.
I discovered J Sheekey early in my career in 2002 when I was taken by my then CEO as a thank you. It has all the best elements of a top restaurant – excellent service, great food, a wonderful room and discreet glamour. I particularly like how they serve the fish – deboning and filleting at the table. J Sheekey has grown into neighbouring properties over the decades and continues to do so hence the ‘rooms’ within the main dining room.
My favourite spot to sit in is in room four at a side-by-side two. I’m afraid table numbers are a secret best kept.
If you’re sharing, its best dish is the roast shellfish. Also, their fish curries are always memorable.
I always order a martini on arrival at the bar. During dinner, I’ll drink some good burgundy. I’ll stretch to some meursault if my pocket allows.
When’s the best time to go? It feels decadent to visit J Sheekey late in the evening with the post theatre in full flight. But every service there is a delight for different reasons.
I usually take someone very special to J Sheekey, like my mother or wife. They always make my glamorous mother feel like a movie star. She loves it and the fuss they make. If I don’t take her for birthdays or if I’ve been a neglectful son.
If you don’t have a reservation, to make sure you get a table be positive, courteous and charming. If you’re attempting to book, ask for the waitlist and then follow up nearer the time. Go often and get to know the team, it always helps. It’s always a joy to see John Andrews, the maître d.