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J Sheekey Oyster Bar, Theatreland, good but pricey

Some of you who have read my previous musings may have noted I'm not a fan of the whole sharing plates/small plates food movement. All too often it is more about the ego of the chef and upping the customer spend than it is about sating the paying punters appetite. Don't get me wrong the dishes are often delicious it's just the servings are never generous and more often than not dishes conflict with one another. I'd always rather have the standard 3 courses with the main encompassing a couple of interesting sides. Now having got on my soapbox the traditional meal is not always suitable particularly when you are short of time as we were last night. My lovely wife and I had an evening off as Baby G was terrorising his grandparents for a couple of days. We had managed to get tickets for Jeeves and Wooster at the Prince of Wales theatre. We wanted to grab a bite nearby but only had about an hour to do so. My lovely wife suggested the oyster bar at J Sheekey as the place the pre-theatre crowd congregate. Thus we turned up at 6:30 to be fed watered and out in time to pick up tickets for our 7:30 show.

I'd actually been to Sheekey's before, over 10 years ago which pre-dated it's revamp. I hadn't been that impressed. We were arguably an effusive group trying to bring life to a dull dining room but though the food was fine the service was snobby and white wine warm. It typified all that was bad about dining up in Theatreland back then. However my lovely wife has been several times since the revamp and lauds the lovely food and smart service so I was willing to give it another try. The oyster bar is certainly bijou but makes good use of its space. There is a large central raw bar with seats around it. There are small tables around the edge of the room and then a further annex for larger parties. It was about half full when we went in so we had the option of a table which we took. Water and bread followed briskly and the menu was printed on the place mat. The menu is split into the usual bits from the raw bar and small plates of cooked food. It didn't seem like the night for oysters so we ordered a selection of hot dishes. First up was some delicious ham and shrimp croquettes with a zingy mustard mayo followed by some plump perfectly spiced tandoori prawns. We then had a lovely smoked haddock frittata which was superior to many a Spanish tortilla I've had. There was a serving of fries to mop up the delicious mayo and last of all a delicious smoked mackerel pate.

All the dishes were lovely, full of flavour, decent portions and actually the pate was a nice way to round off the meal. We washed it all down with a lovely carafe of Gruner Vetliner. We were all done in 45 minutes without feeling rushed or stuffed. Service was smooth and friendly, they are obviously well versed in the pre theatre diners but they do it with style. It's not a cheap eat by any means as the bill for 2 came to £80 but I felt they earnt it. The room had a nice buzz about it and the emphasis was certainly on people letting their hair down in convivial surroundigs and having fun. Very good food and wine served promptly and in this situation the small sharing plates worked perfectly. No showing off by the chefs other than delivering tasty food. If more small plates could be like the excellent Fayre at J Sheekey then this old curmudgeon might be persuaded yet. A lovely evening all round and the play was a hoot.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Overall rating
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8

Been back since and though the food is good it is extremely expensive, we ran up £200 here before Christmas on not very much food. It's nice but a treat only. 

Grillshack, Soho, No longer with us

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