When we were invited for a seafood supper at the J Sheekey Atlantic Bar, we envisaged a balmy summer evening sipping cocktails and necking oysters on their newly opened terrace. Despite the invitingly plump, candy-pink seats and the promise of at least a few rays of evening sunshine, it was the soft lighting and classic sophistication of the bar itself that drew us in to sit up at the counter. It’s the kind of timelessly glamorous interior that reminds you of a 1930s New York brasserie. You can’t help but accept the offer of a glass of champagne as you wriggle into a stool.
J Sheekey is a landmark in London’s sea of seafood restaurants. Though the Atlantic Bar only opened in 2008, the original and adjoining restaurant is more than 100 years old. The polished details and respect for the institution’s heritage bleed seamlessly between one dining room and the other. They pride themselves on serving the very best British seafood in a simple but reliably good fashion.
The menu at the Atlantic Bar is mostly made up of sharing plates, split into hot and cold sections. We start with a special: Moroccan spiced tiger prawns with a smoky, warm heat, served with lemon yoghurt and crushed pistachio. They taste like being on holiday. We also have Stone Bass Ceviche, which seems a little heavy on the acidity until you take a bite of the fried plantain that comes with it, which brings the flavours into balance.
We’re tempted by the Sheekey’s Fish Pie – a house special – but the weather tells us it’s one for another visit. Instead, we opt for Pan Fried Sea Bream with samphire and wild garlic – much more seasonal. One of our favourite dishes are the Isle of Mull Scallops, cooked in their shells on the plancha with a dusting of shichimi pepper. We love the chef for not being shy with the garlic butter, which demands a side order of chips or bread for shameless mopping-up. Equally lip-smacking are smoked eel and ham croquettes – salty and smoky with a buzz of mustard.
Before we wrap this up, we must mention the knockout pudding that was the gooseberry pie – sweet frangipane and sour fruit – with a dollop of elderflower ice cream. The perfect end to a great meal.
See you on the terrace for oysters and bubbly.
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