J Sheekey Oyster Bar

  • Restaurants
  • British
Critics' choice
4 Love It
© Paul Winch-Furness
© Paul Winch-Furness
Covent Garden
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Like Paris’s Le Grand Colbert or Café Florian in Venice, J Sheekey is in danger of becoming an institution whose uniquely local appeal stretches far beyond London. The addition of this two-unit oyster bar creates an imposing procession of branded red canopies along St Martin’s Court. What could appeal more to tourists than the chance to knock back a couple of native oysters amid the nation’s finest stars of stage and screen? Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Gambon, that bloke from ‘Rebus’… if they’re not sitting close by they are at least hanging on the walls; regulars will recognise many of the photographs from the main restaurant. The menu is not substantially different from the restaurant either, save an extended choice of oysters and a tempting seasonal dish or two such as ceps on toast with garlic butter. Its appeal lies largely in the opportunity to eat well, simply and conveniently at such a grandly proportioned and convivial bar – at least twice the size of Sheekey’s old bar (which it looks just like) and that at rival Bentley’s. Five types of oyster are currently offered (West Mersea pearls and natives, fines de claires, Strangford Lough rocks and Helford Creek natives) as well as a mixed plate with spicy boar sausage. But if you’re not rushing off to the theatre, opt for the platter of fruits de mer, a necessarily leisurely trawl through primarily British waters that takes in the oysters as well as other marine goodies including cockles, winkles, crab, mussels, langoustine and exquisitely nutty tasting palourdes clams. Wines to accompany start at £18 a bottle – not a bargain but not prohibitively pricey, either. It was quiet and staff were extremely relaxed on our visit – but like Alec Guinness on the London stage, that’s something we can’t expect to see again.

Venue name: J Sheekey Oyster Bar
Address: 33-34 St Martin's Court
Opening hours: Open Noon-midnight Mon-Sat, noon-11pm Sun.
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square tube
Price: Meal for two with wine and service: around £100.
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