By Hannah Connolly
ith a heritage of dishes spanning centuries, the UK has long since had an all-out love affair with the sea and all of the food that comes with it. From classic fish and chips loaded with salt and vinegar, fresh crab served in the shell, to the delight of a sugared doughnut - we love the seaside and the taste memories it evokes.
Over the decades, London has amassed some of the finest seafood restaurants in the world, elevating and experimenting with the familiar to present diners with innovative takes on our favourites as well as dishes from across the globe. Here we cast our nets to haul in the best spots set to impress a potential client, investor or your friends and loved ones, covering everything from the best lunch spots to elegant new opens...
The Newcomer Set To Impress - Goddard & Gibbs
Rooted in a love for British seafood, Goddard & Gibbs is the latest dining spot to drop anchor in Shoreditch. Taking up residence in the former Ace Hotel, the restaurant makes up part of the One Hundred Hotels' elegant space redesign. Opening on the 3rd of March, the hotel offers 6 new spaces, from the richly lit velvet tones of the Seed Library Bar to the vibrancy of the coffee come co-working main space. (A pink marbled rooftop bar is set to open early Summer 2022, sure to be a hit with enviable views right in the heart of the East London hotspot).
Taking up the helm is Head Chef Tom Moore, previously of Mayfair’s Ormer, overseeing a vibrant menu inspired by the Great British Seaside and focusing on ethical and sustainable sourcing of ingredients.
Expect oysters on ice, roasted skate wing with XO butter and seasonal spring greens, blood orange infused ceviches, raw scallops with dill, and shrimp butter filled hake kieves with new potatoes. But it wouldn't be the seaside without doughnuts – a must-try if you have the room — opt for the miso butter-fried doughnut for an elevated taste of childhood nostalgia and an all-around great desert.
Dining here is decidedly unpretentious, though indeed an elevated experience. Goddard & Gibbs have carefully curated an elegant but unintimidating atmosphere that somehow feels unique in such a restaurant-heavy part of town. Thanks in part to an excellent front of house team, great food and of course, an excellent wine list.
The Cult Favourite - J.Sheekey
With a dedicated cult following, J.Sheekey has been serving up seafood and shellfish in the heart of Covent Garden since 1890. A story that begins with Josef Sheekey, who was given permission to sell his wares in the famous market square providing he supplied Lord Sailsbury’s after-theatre dinner parties with the finest catch. Here is the start of an enduring relationship with the theatre that lasts to this day.
The restaurant, a classic Victorian build, is painted the characteristic claret red on the outside with matching awning and summer friendly dining terrace, whilst the interior walls feature framed pictures of its most famous patrons.
On the menu, look forward to starting with dressed Devonshire crab or the delicious shellfish bisque with cognac & tarragon cream. Main plates cover the classics and beyond - fish & chips with tatar sauce, whole lobster grilled or Thermador is on hand, as well as Korean and Japanese inspired fish dishes like the Teriyaki salmon fillet with shrimp dumpling & citrus dashi.
J. Sheekey feels like a restaurant that knows exactly what it does well and keeps doing it flawlessly, with an easy-going atmosphere ideal for parties of 4 or more. So for anyone visiting for the first time, sharing platters are a must; try the Plateau de Fruits de Mer, and the Sheekey fish pie really is a cult favourite for a reason, make sure to order a portion.
The Perfect Spot For An All-Important Dinner Meeting - Angler
Angler, based at the top of the South Place Hotel, is a Michelin-starred restaurant boasting an elegant rooftop terrace and showcasing the best sustainably sourced seafood the British Isles has to offer.
The ever-changing menu is crafted to celebrate only the most carefully sourced and beautiful seasonal produce, headed up by Executive Chef Gary Foulkes. Showcasing each individual ingredient's texture and flavour.
The restaurant's on-site Sommelier Francesco Tessa is also on hand for pairing recommendations from a stunning selection of wines. The menu is small but painstakingly curated; opt for the tasting menu to get the full vision at £100 per person. Previous highlights have included sea bass tartare with oyster cream, green apple and shiso or the XL Scottish langoustines with parmesan gnocchi and a potato and truffle emulsion.
As a good hack, this stunning Michelin star restaurant offers a 4-course set-lunch menu at a fraction of the cost of £45 pp. With plates that scream modern elegance, this is a booking set to impress – try for an important business lunch to leave a lasting impression on your guests.
A Timeless Classic For A Reason - Wiltons
Serving seafood to London’s Mayfair for over 275 years, Wiltons is an institution; in fact, it is London’s oldest restaurant. A classical interior adorned with wooden fixtures and tables covered in starched white tablecloths and racing car green velvet booths, Wiltons possesses a rare sense of quaint elegance.
Iced champagne buckets at every table and white-gloved waiters on hand to bring plate after plate of exquisite seafood – yet for all its classic appeal, Wiltons remains timeless.
Head Chef Daniel Kent offers sublime and traditional dishes. However, this isn't to be mistaken for uninteresting – the seafood cocktail illustrates this ideally, familiar yet all together elevated and is well worth trying.
This is the perfect spot for grown-up dining experiences; mind you, Wiltons takes itself very seriously and as it should, theres no other restaurant quite like it. The recommendation at Wiltons is to start everything with at least half a dozen oysters… and it would be rude not to. (Again, keep an eye out for lunch menus!)
From classic oyster bars to contemporary renderings of British seaside classics these restaurants are the perfect place to impress a client or friends.
By Hannah Connolly