Sheesh is a family run restaurant that sits in the rather splendid building that was once home to Ye Olde King’s Head pub in the centre of Chigwell, Essex. I’ve visited several times and have never had a bad meal here, and what’s more, the atmosphere is always electric - filled with a buzz that is hard to achieve in local restaurants outside of the centre of London.
Primarily, a Turkish theme runs throughout the menu, with some other Mediterranean influences - this is basically a ‘posh kebab house’ as my Dad would call it with a few bells and whistles. As I’ve said, the location and venue is in itself fantastic - as well as a vast dining area, there is also an outside terrace that is heaving in the sunshine and the bar upstairs is lively and they have regular performers on to keep the crowds in after their meals too.
I visited Sheesh a few weeks back on a Friday night with three of my girlfriends, Steph, Jade and Jemma for a meal followed by drinks and dancing in the bar.
We started with some appetisers to share – firstly the ‘Karisik Meze’, a selection of homemade dips including taramasalata, hummous, tzatziki, a tomato and onion dip and two aubergine based dips, one smoky, garlicy baba ghanoush-style dip and one oily tomato based dip. All were great but particular mention must be made for the tarama and the aubergine/tomato dip – delicious.
Clearly the four of us wouldn’t be content with just dips being the greedy sorts we are. To complement our dips we also ordered some fried halloumi cheese, gorgeously salty with that almost crust of flavour on the outside and a nearly-gooey interior as well as a plate of ‘sigara boregi’. A plate full of filo pastry cylinders filled with cheese and spinach –calorific but exceptionally tasty. With a satisfying crunch as you bite in, but filled with the most moreish soft and tempting centre.
Jade and Jemma each chose a dish from the ‘specials’ menu, veering away from the traditional dishes. Jade opted for the ‘Kleftico’, different from the Greek version that I know, this was a lamb shank cooked slowly in a tomato and vegetable sauce with the potatoes cooked in the sauce. Not being a fan of lamb, this is something I wouldn’t normally try but the aroma of it was incredibly appetising and so I tried a small little mouthful and was pleasantly surprised. The meat was so tender from the long, slow cooking process and was filled with flavour. Jade certainly enjoyed.
Jemma chose the ‘Kremali Tavuk’, a special of chicken breast served in a creamy red and green pepper and mushroom sauce. The chicken was succulent and moist and the cream sauce was to die for – delicious with some of the pita dipped in. A portion of asparagus made up the rest of Jemma’s meal and it really is worthy of mention alone. It came drizzled in a garlic and herb butter that is simply to-die-for and is then scattered with sea salt which gives that added, flavourful crunch – sensational.
Steph and I both ordered from the huge charcoal grill situated at the end of the main section of the restaurant. We wasn’t sitting in that area on this particular evening, but if you are making an evening of it at Sheesh, try to request a table in this area as it is fabulous to watch the kitchen staff at work – but be warned if you are heading out elsewhere after your meal, you may find yourself coated in eau de kebab.
I chose the ‘Tavuk Sis’ or chicken shish kebab which was exceptional as always. The chicken was juicy and beautifully spiced with just a hint of chilli. Served with a colourful salad of sliced onion, carrots, red cabbage, green leaves and a chopped tomato and cucumber combo as well as a whole, raw chilli the kebab was sitting aboard a flat-bread. Several sauces come alongside anything cooked on the charcoal grill – all of varying heat - Steph and I were both keen on the extra hot which packed a serious punch. A great dish.
Steph embarked on a Woman vs Food mission and chose the ‘Karisek Grille’ – the mixed grill, a selection of all of the meats cooked over the grill. Now all four of us love our food, but we were impressed by Steph as she managed to eat all of the meat on the grill (with a little help from us having the odd nibble).
She had no complaints whatsoever and as well as the same flatbread and salad that came with mine, Steph’s meal consisted of the chicken shish that I had, lamb shish, a lamb chop, a marinated chicken wing, a lamb kofta, and a minced chicken meatball. All were pleasing, but Steph’s particular favourites were actually the chicken and lamb shish that Sheesh do so, so well.
We had an impressive three bottles of the Moko Black New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at the table too and after paying the bill, around £180 including service, we headed up to the bar to enjoy the live singer. A lovely soulful singer who belted out some absolute old school tunes, veering between Motown and modern songs, it wasn’t long before the combination of great atmosphere and a round of Aperol Spritz and Champagne cocktails had the four of us up dancing, and we were not alone.
Service was good throughout the evening and we really did have a fabulous time. My only slight gripe would be the fact you can only have the table for a certain amount of time, and when our two-hour slot was up the waiters were hovering around us quite blatantly, which as we were only heading upstairs was a tad irritating.
I would certainly recommend Sheesh for a good night out in Essex – great food, drinks and atmosphere are provided so the only thing you need is good company like I had on this particular evening.