A fairly sweltering September means that my hunt for the best alfresco bars (or bars with decent terraces) for post work drinks has continued. Bronte (my regular), is a big favourite of mine in Central London. It has a large terrace, a decent bar menu and there’s always a table free. But apart from that it’s always quite tricky to find a relaxed terrace in Covent Garden or Soho. Further North I have more luck; in Fitzrovia Foley’s has a cool alfresco bar (but with very limited seats), Percy & Founders has a large outside seating area, and Charlotte street offers many restaurants with small terraces ideal for drinks in the sun (the big favourite being the Charlotte Street hotel). So when Grace Dent wrote a rave review about J Sheekey launching their new Atlantic Bar & Terrace (a revamp from their old Oyster Bar), located in the West End, I thought I’d check it out.
London’s West End is known to be very busy and very touristy, and the immediate area around Leicester Square is not necessarily a place I spend much time. J Sheekey is right in the thick of theatre-land, tucked away down a little alley way. It looks pretty old school. I mean, J Sheeky has been around for decades. But you can tell that it’s terrace has had a bit of make over; with bright colours and comfy red chairs it looks fresh and welcoming. And it’s prime people watching territory too (not long after we spotted Ian McKellan smoking a cigarette around the corner). I also loved its new menu with artwork by my favourite Quentin Blake.
You can’t just drink here, you need to order some food. But with a mouth-watering fish-heavy menu, that’s not exactly a problem. We ordered the sea bass ceviche and the tuna and avocado tartare, both excellent. The wine list is decent, though it’s easy to leave here with a fairly large bill (a glass of wine and one dish each set us back close to £25 each).
In short, if you’re looking for a pre-theatre or cinema place for an alfresco drink and a quick bite, this is the place for you. Alternatively, you can of course just stay here for a proper fishy dinner – there’s a reason why this place has been around for so long, the food is great and the service is too.
33-35 St Martin’s Court,
London WC2N 4AL