After well over a century of service, Sheekey’s status as a West End institution is assured. With its monochrome photos of stars of stage and screen, wooden panelling and cream crackle walls, and array of silver dishes atop thick white tablecloths, it oozes old-fashioned glamour. The separate booths and secluded tables cry out for romantic trysts – even a simple lunch has the thrill of a secret assignation.
The white-aproned, black-waistcoated staff are charm incarnate, if alarmingly numerous – half a dozen greeted us between door and table. The menu, an ode to the bounty of the sea, runs from super-fresh oysters and shellfish via old-fashioned snacks (herring roe on toast) to upmarket classics (dover sole, lobster thermidor). The fish pie – a rich, comforting treat – is deservedly acclaimed, but we feel the shrimp and scallop burger merits similar status. Densely textured and full-flavoured, it came in a lightly toasted sesame seed bun with all the trimmings, including a little silver jug of spicy mayonnaise.
Puds include Eton mess, seasonal sorbets and ice-creams (elderflower and gooseberry ripple, on our visit). Amalfi lemon semifreddo with blackcurrants was a winner, each sugar-coated fruit a bomblet of zingy intensity. You can feast on crustacea (and some dishes from Sheekey’s main menu) at the Oyster Bar next door – it’s also easier to book.