Destination: England: London
J. Sheekey Oyster Bar
J. Sheekey in the West End has been a British institution since 1896 when it first started catering to the after-theater crowd, and it regained glamour when it was taken over by the owners of the Ivy and Le Caprice more than a decade ago. In the space just next door to the original, where there was until recently a bookshop, a new 30-seat counter has opened. Though everything from the mirrors to the zinc countertops has just been installed, the effect is to recreate the authentic Old World oyster bar that Joseph Sheekey first ran. It’s so convincingly done, you may expect ladies in white gloves and men in bowler hats to appear on the stools next to you. No reservations are accepted; it’s first come first seated; however, there is a smaller version of this counter just to the left of the entrance to the original J. Sheekey where you can reserve and enjoy the exact same menu. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Sunday Night Speakeasy: One Sunday a month hosts Sheekey Speakeasies where top performers positioned behind Sheekey’s horse-shoe shaped bar entertain guests for a couple of hours with food served between acts. Guests must book by phone on a first-come, first-serve seating basis for a modest £30 a head.
A particular favorite among London celebs and food critics, this hot spot brasserie located in Mayfair never lets you down. The sister restaurant to the Ivy, Le Caprice has a more welcoming relaxed feel, with a friendly and unpretentious staff and the food is reliable. The perfect solution for any special occasion or a fun dinner out with friends, the menu offers classic fare like its famous fishcakes, steak tartare, or eggs Benedict. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
The tranquil setting of this restaurant, on the banks of the Thames, is outdone only by the quality of its contemporary Italian dishes, where “fresh and seasonal” is the kitchen mantra. Opened twenty years ago, in 1987, by Ruthie Rogers and Rosie Gray and just reopened after an extensive renovation, the River Café is still pulling in the sophisticated artsy crowd, despite its noncentral, Hammersmith location. Rogers, who is married to architect Richard Rogers, and Gray can often be seen cooking behind the sprawling silver counter. Reservations must be booked far in advance. During the summer, ask to eat outside. Start your meal off with a divine Prosecco in a glass containing crushed strawberries. The menu, which changes daily, might include a pea and prosciutto risotto with mint and Parmesan shavings, char-grilled squid with fresh red chilis and rocket or wood-roasted veal chop with rosemary and lemon. Desserts are equally heavenly. Chocoholics must sample the Chocolate Nemesis for true Nirvana. Check the monthly menus on the Web site to really work up your appetite.
Many beloved institutions tire or become trite but the Ivy has been the place to see and be seen in London for decades. Opened in 1917, the Covent Garden restaurant has been a hit with actors from its inception. (A popular actress is credited with giving it its name.) The interiors were renovated extensively in 1990 by Caprice Holdings, of which it is now part, and remains a magnet for moguls and movie stars. Among the modern innovations that have proved how even classics can stay with the changing times: a Vegan menu and on-line reservations. Open for lunch and dinner.
Breakfast at the Wolseley will brighten the grayest of London days. With its high ceilings and grand pillars, arches and stairways, the onetime car showroom has a vibe similar to La Coupole in Paris. Take refuge and sip a charged Lapsong tea or a thimbleful of espresso with a perfect cap of crema. Fill up on the birchermüesli —a cereal with grated apple, raisins, dried cranberries, hazelnuts, honey, milk and cream. Or for those who would rather have a traditional start, try the porridge with brown sugar. Hedonists should go for the heavenly pancakes with caramelized bananas or the rich eggs Benedict; the extra calories never felt so worth it. The Dover sole at lunch is a crowd pleaser.
Search By Keyword
This island has unspoiled coral reefs and protected lagoons so...
Preserved by ancient fortifications and years of neglect, Cartagena is...
New on Indagare
Give the Gift of Indagare The perfect present for travelers: a membership to Indagare. Buy now
Indagare Insider Trips: Cuba, Myanmar and India: We’re planning trips throughout the year. Contact Indagare (212-988-2611) to be added to the wait list.
- Community: Share advice with fellow members asking about your favorite travel discoveries.
- Indagare Insiders: Three-day itineraries for families in London and art lovers in Vienna. Plus, fashion insider Chiara Ferragamo’s picks on what not to miss in Florence, Bonnie Gokson, owner of Hong Kong’s lofty Sevva on Hong Kong, Culinary Insider: Budapest.
- Rant & Rave: Indagare members can share their advice with the community by logging in first, then clicking here: Rants & Raves.
- Give the Gift: Indagare: Give the gift of travel intelligence with a membership to Indagare. For details or to order, call us at 212-988-2611 or click here: Gift Membership.
- Indagare Plus: Remember that hotels marked by an Indagare Plus symbol offer preferential rates and benefits to members.
- Indagare Share Feature: Share articles, postcards and reviews with family and friends on such networking sites as Twitter, Facebook and Delicious. Simply click on the three small dots that symbolize our connect icon, at the end of every article, and follow the link to the networking site of your preference.
- Sample Indagare: With free bi-weekly email blasts on new hot spots and insider tips when you sign up for our mailing list.
- Profile feature: Members share your profiles, comments, favorite articles and IQs. Just click on the Profile tab on the upper right of your screen and look for the Edit My Profile blue tab.
- Indagare means to discover, explore, seek, scout in Latin.