How (And Where) To Eat Native Lobster In The UK
Live lobsters at the J Sheekey Atlantic Bar. Photograph by Mr Paul Winch-Furness, courtesy of J Sheekey
Where to get the freshest seafood in Britain this spring.
As the weather warms up, our eating habits start to change, and we look to lighter morsels that complement the spring weather. Fresh seafood, therefore, is never far from our minds – or, should we say, plates. And, if you’re a Londoner, you will know that J Sheekey is one of the best places in the capital to get it. The restaurant opened its doors in 1896, when market-stall owner Mr Josef Sheekey was first granted permission to do so by former Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. Since then, it has become a bit of an institution – a go-to for leisurely lunches, pre-theatre bivalves, and its now-famous fish pie. Although it will always have an air of old glamour about it – the white tablecloths, the silverware, the black-and-white pictures on the wall – its revamp last year, which welcomed the Atlantic Bar next door (formerly the Oyster Bar), a new lobster section to the menu and a summer terrace, shows it is keeping up with the times.
Mr Andy McLay. Photograph by Mr Sim Canetty-Clarke, ccourtesy of J Sheekey
“Native lobster is something we’re going to be using a lot of at Sheekey’s this summer, especially as it is coming into season round about now. If you have a choice of lobster, always choose native. They are from the UK and because of this will go from sea to table within a couple of days at most, so they will taste better and you can be sure they’ll be extremely fresh. Native lobsters are blue when live, and go bright red when you cook them.”
WHERE TO BUY THEM
“If you’re based in London, you can’t go wrong with Billingsgate Fish Market in east London, which stocks some of the best lobster in the UK. Its daily catches from British coastal areas and overseas mean it can offer consistently fresh produce, and the 40-plus merchants trading there keep competition keen and prices low.”
HOW TO EAT THEM AT HOME
“The rule of thumb with lobsters is always to use top-quality produce, then keep your preparation as simple as possible – this will let the natural flavours come through and show your guests you really know your stuff.
“Ten minutes in boiling water should cook a 500g lobster (which will serve one), but you should always check with your supplier as cooking times will vary based on size and weight. There’s no real taste difference between the claw and the tail of a lobster, however the claw meat is flakier, so works better for dishes like lobster macaroni or omelettes.
“Cook your lobster, let it cool, and then serve it with mayo or even garlic mayo. Alternatively, barbecue your lobster, then drizzle with lemon and serve with a side of coleslaw. If you’re after something a little more comforting, lobster macaroni cheese always hits the spot.”
WHAT TO DRINK WITH LOBSTER
“You should always drink white wine with lobster as red will conflict with the flavours. You want something light and flavoursome. An oaky chardonnay will go beautifully with a traditional hot lobster dish. When serving lobster cold, enjoy it with a dry white – like muscadet or chablis. If the sun is shining and you’re feeling summery, pair it with a nice sparkling white or even a Côtes de Provence rosé.”
WHERE TO EAT LOBSTER
“If you’d rather leave things to the professionals, here are my favourite restaurants to eat lobster…”
“Obviously, this is my number one recommendation for fantastic lobster in London. I highly recommend a visit to the J Sheekey Atlantic Bar’s terrace with a group of friends this summer.”
The Seafood Restaurant
Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen
“Nathan Outlaw’s restaurant in Port Isaac in Cornwall serves some really interesting seafood dishes. Again, it’s right on the water so the sea-to-table time is at an absolute minimum.”