Take a 600-year old tavern, shove a fine-dining Turkish restaurant inside and give it a meaty name that would also suit an oddly-themed shisha bar, and you get Sheesh, an exquisite restaurant in the heart of Chigwell.
- A £10 booking fee is charged per person, but this is taken off your bill on the day.
- All the meat here is halal. Alcohol is served.
I’ve visited Sheesh on one occasion with Theresa May (not the real one), and Napoleon (again, not the real one. I’m not that old), and am already planning on returning as soon as I can.
To start, we ordered a helping of sigara bogeri, lahmacun and a mixed mezze, served alongside a complementary basket of bread. The bread was a little firmer than I would’ve liked, but was thick and of a good quality, and combined well with the sharp, vibrant flavours of the mixed mezze, delivering a contrasting combination of crunchy and soft textures. The lahmacun was also a little on the hard side, but the flavoursome lamb did well to appease our appetites.
The sigara bogeri – composed of soft, crispy filo pastry filled with spinach and cheese – oozed with strong and powerful flavours, and quickly took the top spot amongst our starters.
For mains, I opted for the the mixed grill, which was composed of a single lamb chop, chicken cubes, one large piece of kofte, a large chicken wing, and a large assortment of salad. I ordered mine with a side order of bulgur, whilst Theresa May ordered his with chips. Napoleon – who couldn’t read the top of the menu owing to his limited vertical clearance, ordered a lamb shank instead.
Every single item of meat in the mixed grill had an exemplary cook, being extremely soft, tender and moist. The lamb chop was fairly tender, of a high quality, and incredibly flavoursome, with a perfect amount of fat that meshed into the meat.
The chicken cubes too were of a high quality, and were equally flavoursome, as was the thick and tender chicken wing. However, it was the lamb kofte that stole the show, with a complex blend of flavours, a mild hint of spice, and a texture that literally melted with each bite.
By the time we battled through our mains, our booking had almost elapsed, which sadly meant no time for desserts. Though, as we had been a bit overzealous with starters and mains, we didn’t have the room either. Instead, we opted for three cups of Turkish coffee, which was both rich and robust.
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Sheesh is a fine-dining establishment and yet, you’ll feel as though you’re the one committing robbery. Starters cost around £5-£10, mains cost around £15-£35, and desserts lie in the £8-£10 range. Portions aren’t ferret-sized either. I struggled, and if I struggle with my hippo’s appetite, enough food has been served. Throw in the luxurious surroundings and the dining experience as a whole, and I’d say you get quite a bargain – even if you do manage to rack up a hefty bill.
Staff at Sheesh are efficient, friendly, and above all, polite. Everyone is eager to ensure you have a pleasant dining experience without any hiccups, and given how busy the restaurant gets, they do well to consistently provide a high level of service to a large volume of patrons.
As it approached 9pm, we had more or less elapsed our booking time, and our waiter, aware that another party was due to arrive soon, subtly nudged us by asking whether our booking was until 9pm. A polite and gentle way to say “Leave”. The good manners were certainly appreciated. When we enquired as to whether we could order coffee and take it to the lounge/bar area (thereby freeing up our table), our waiter told us we could order coffee and enjoy it in the restaurant, and let us overrun our booking by a brief 10 minutes. A good example for restaurants where staff rudely rush paying customers through their meal and herd them out in order to get the next batch in. (I may look like a buffalo, but that doesn’t mean I am a buffalo).
Decor / Ambience: 5/5
Rarely do you find an entire building dedicated to a single restaurant, let alone one with history. The entire “Sheesh complex” is located in the 600-year-old “Ye Old King’s Head” tavern, which boasts a crisp white exterior wall with tudor-style planking. There are a number of dining areas and lounges both public and private, distributed around the entire building. We sat in the “leather lounge”, which hosted comfortable and attractive leather furniture, and a number of interesting items, including a suit of armour. (I would’ve climbed into it but I always wear my own suit of armour anyway. It’s called my belly).
The rear of the restaurant features an outside dining area, surrounded by the attractive exterior walls of the tavern, though it’s pretty chilly in the evening during the British winter. (And the British spring. Probably the British summer too). The restaurant is best reached by car or taxi, as Chigwell isn’t very pedestrian friendly. If you do choose to walk there, it’s a six-minute walk from Chigwell station according to our overlords at Google. There is a car park within the restaurant complex itself, though it might be worth checking if you can park there beforehand, as it may be a members-only feature. (Membership costs £1000 a year if you’re wondering). Theresa May enquired about the price and subsequently choked on his drink when he received his answer. Naturally I helped by laughing in his face. (It’s okay, he’s a Tory, he doesn’t have feelings).
With fine food, an elegant backdrop, and a refreshing ambience, Sheesh sets itself apart from other fine-dining Turkish establishments, and pushes the bar for high-end Turkish cuisine higher than ever before. As far as fine-dining restaurants go, this is one that is not to be overlooked.
Address: Ye Olde Kings Head, High Road, Chigwell, Essex, IG7 6QA
Telephone: 020 8559 1155