Fish & Seafood Restaurants in Covent Garden
1. J Sheekey Fish & seafood restaurant in Covent Garden 28-34 St Martin’s Ct - WC2
“A proper, old-school London tradition that never fails” – Richard Caring’s “beautiful and iconic” Theatreland classic (est. 1896) remains both the survey’s No.1 most-talked-about destination and also its top choice for fish. You approach its intriguing etched-glass façade via a Dickensian alley, off St Martin’s Lane, and once inside, navigate a succession of “charming”, “old-fashioned small rooms” presided over by “slick” and “professional” staff. There’s “a great buzz” – almost “too noisy” – and even if “tables are a little close for a private conversation”, it is “particularly enjoyable for late, relaxing dinners after a show”. When it comes to the “traditional” cuisine, “they are not trying to reinvent the wheel” – “dishes are not particularly delicate, creative or ambitious, but they are generous”, “not overly mucked-about-with”, and “showcase the quality of the produce on the plate”. The wide-ranging menu of “fish and seafood galore” delivers “all you could want from the oceans!”, but it’s the down-to-earth “brilliant, warming, rich and comforting fish pie” that’s actually its best-known option. Ratings were higher here five years ago, and the venue’s ongoing “expansion has not helped standards”. That said, its level of achievement has remained incredibly impressive and, on virtually all accounts, “it’s a cherished, special place”.
2. The Oystermen Seafood Kitchen & Bar Fish & seafood restaurant in Covent Garden 32 Henrietta St - WC2E
“A jewel of a find” – this “tiny”, “cupboard-sized” yearling in Covent Garden receives a resounding “bravo!” from reporters for its “fun” style, “charming service” and “fabulous” seafood (“oysters are the speciality, but there’s a good range of other fish dishes”). Top Tip: ‘Bubbles ’n’ Oysters Happy Hour – “I called in after reading a review in Harden’s newsletter, and was amazed at the quality of the oysters with a glass of bubbly for £10!” STOP PRESS: just as we went to press, the Oystermen expanded into the space next door, giving them 50 covers, a walk-in-only raw bar and a bigger open kitchen.
3. J Sheekey Atlantic Bar Fish & seafood restaurant in Covent Garden 28-34 St Martin’s Ct - WC2
“Classic small plates” of “fantastic quality seafood”, “served in a 1930’s-style atmosphere” have evolved a separate, highly popular, identity for Sheekey’s “bustling” and “beautiful” adjacent bar, which fans say is “better than the restaurant!” and whose relatively “informal” approach is particularly “great for pre-/post-theatre”. Its ratings don’t hit the heights they once did, however, with the odd gripe that “while the welcome was warm, the food was nothing to write home about”.
4. Parsons Fish & seafood restaurant in Covent Garden 39 Endell Street - WC2H
“Living up to the hype despite the narrow space” – this new opening from the folks behind The 10 Cases (just across the road) is one of the most applauded arrivals of the past year and “a great addition to Covent Garden”. “A short menu of the freshest fish and seafood” is served “with good wines and no faff” in a “refreshingly unpretentious”, but “stylishly simple” white-tiled environment, and results are “sparkling”.
5. Smith & Wollensky Steaks & grills restaurant in Covent Garden The Adelphi Building, 1-11 John Adam St - WC2
“Much maligned”, say fans (often expense-accounters) of this outpost, near The Strand, of the famous NYC steakhouse chain, for whom its “confident cocktails”, “stunning list of American wines” and “USDA cuts cooked to order make it a meat-lover’s paradise – request a private booth and let the deal-making juices flow”. The colossal ticket price, however, remains a major turn-off to sceptics, who say: “the steaks are ridiculously overpriced, and the wine list is designed only for oligarchs… who wouldn’t be seen dead here in any case!”
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