J Sheekey’s long association with West End theatre can be traced back to the 1890s when stall-holder Josef Sheekey was granted permission by Lord Salisbury to serve seafood in St Martin’s Court – on the proviso that he supplied meals to Salisbury’s after-theatre dinner parties. Times have changed, but the historic connection continues as the Covent Garden restaurant hosts a third season of Sheekey’s Secrets – a series of conversations with stars of the stage, which begins with Patricia Hodge on January 28, followed by an evening with Sir Tim Rice on March 11.
Hodge will chat to journalist Tim Wapshott during the culinary event – where guests will be served a three-course meal (priced £100 per person, including a cocktail on arrival and wine) by executive head chef Andrew McLay – and recall many of her career highs, including winning an Olivier Award for her performance in Money in 2000. Hodge is a stage veteran with notable appearances in His Dark Materials and Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at the National Theatre, and has starred in films such as The Elephant Man and an adaptation of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. She also recently played Ursula Thorpe in the acclaimed BBC drama A Very English Scandal.
Dinner will begin with a cocktail and starters of salmon gravlax with marinated cucumber and dill mustard dressing; crab bisque with cream and cognac; or Keens cheddar soufflé with shaved black truffle. The mains will include Sheekey’s fish pie or pan-fried sea bass with brown shrimps, salsify and sea vegetables, and for dessert there’s smoked passion fruit chocolate torte; baked vanilla cheesecake with clementines; or spiced Bramley apple crumble with pomegranate, coconut and lime sorbet.
The menu is yet to be confirmed for Sir Tim Rice’s event (also £100 per person), who is expected to share a few gems over supper while looking back on a remarkable career, from collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber on hit shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita to his film work with Disney for Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Rice is a three-time Academy Awards winner.