Sweetings Restaurant's Former Website
For a number of years this was the website for the Sweetings Restaurant .
Content is from the site's 2014 archived pages and Yelp reviews.
Open from Monday to Friday for lunch only, Sweetings has been a busy City institution for well over 100 years, standing as a constant in its Grade II listed building on Queen Victoria Street while skyscrapers, stock markets and bombs have varyingly risen and fallen around it. It serves fried, grilled or poached fish of many kinds, along with a small selection of traditional starters and desserts. In all its time, Sweetings has been owned by only six different groups of people, the most recent taking over in 2001.
The current website for Sweetings Restaurant is found at: www.sweetingsrestaurant.co.uk/
39 Queen Victoria Street
London EC4N 4SF
Tel: 020 7 248 3062
An aside: I have been eating at Sweetings for at least a decade. I always stop by for at least two or three lunches when I am visiting London. And the advice of arriving early to avoid the queues still holds true. Do try their black velvet, a wonderful combination of champagne and draft Guinness. Do try the Mackeral Pate what a great starter followed by Dover Sole, Grilled and off the Bone with Mashed Potatoes and Peas,. I have always found them to be absolutely superb. Also try a dozen Mersea native oysters to start. Believe me, natives are the BEST and well worth the extravagance.
In the States I work for an e commerce site that sells restaurant, office and janitorial supplies. Consequently I always check out the paper products such as tissues and paper towels in the rest rooms and take a glance at the trash liner bags. My friends always laugh at me when I come out of the rest romm and make my assessment of the quality of the paper towel dispenser or the thickness of the rash bags. Although the company I work for, CleanItSupply do ship orders internationally, I suspect that Sweetings orders its restaurant and janitorial supplies locally. Most of our wholesale and retail clients are based in the US. My opinion of the janitorial supplies at the restaurant were ok, but their fish is superb.
Sweetings Restaurant first opened in 1889 and has carried out serving lunch ever since. Sweetings prides itself on offering a wide variety of sustainable fish, from wild fresh Scottish Salmon, usually the first fish of the season, to the native oysters from West Mersea on the Essex coast.
Daily fish is selected with care by Barfoot Ltd.
Opening hours are from 11.30am to 3.00pm, Monday to Friday. No reservations taken.
The venue is available to hire for private functions in the evenings and during the weekend. It is also used as a TV and movie location.
Sweetings Restaurant, an original Victorian Fish and Oyster bar, at the heart of the City of London is available to hire for special functions and parties in the evenings as well as during the weekend. It’s decor is one of the few surviving examples of a Victorian fish restaurant. The venue is full of character and charm and benefits from a central location at the ground floor of the Albert Buildings on Queen Victoria Street.
Please contact Mr Cyril Hanrival for further information on prices and availability.
Tel 020 7 248 3062
East Bay, CA
5.0 star rating
We loved this place!!! It is such a hidden gem! It's totally a locals place as we were the only tourists in the place. There were a lot of business men who had lunch here. You can only dine during the lunch hours and only Monday through Friday. We grabbed lunch after St. Paul's Cathedral.
The set up is actually quite quaint. There are "bars" or tables set in the dining area, each bar is manned by a waiter/waitress who takes your order and serves you. They stay behind the bar area so they are accessible if you need anything. The menu is very simple, you select the fish you want and how you want it prepared. We opted for the Haddock and fried, as we wanted "fish and chips." One portion is enough to share between two, assuming you order an appetizer or two, and a side dish. We also ordered chips which was enough for two people. The haddock was super fresh and cooked perfectly. It was not rubbery and was really juicy. My only complaint was that the fish itself could have been seasoned more, but perhaps they were looking to display freshness. The fish also is served with skin, which is okay as I'm used to eating fish that way. So Americans, be forewarned! The tartar sauce is also homemade and delicious.
In addition to the fried haddock and chips, we ordered the lobster bisque. The bisque was more like a broth than a chowder, which is actually my preference. The bisque was nice and robust and had a lot of umami flavor. There were pieces of lobster in the bisque.
There was also a special appetizer for the day, fried monk fish cheeks. Did you know that the cheeks of the fish is the best part of the fish? I don't think a lot of people know this. If you're Chinese like me, and grew up eating a fish whole, you learned that everyone fights for the cheek. Think, there's only two cheeks per fish. The monk fish cheeks were breaded and fried. The cheeks were WHOLE piece, they were not diced and then fried, but fried whole. It was very good.
Sweetings is not your usual place for fish and chips. it was very good and a different experience. I recommend to anyone in the area especially if you're from the States. It is definitely unique.
3.0 star rating
Nice non-touristy place for lunch. Portions were quite small, but nice atmosphere.
4.0 star rating
Very delicious steak sandwich. A combination of flavors that really offset nicely. Very informal place but really nice.
Newport Beach, CA
4.0 star rating
Very good but VERY pricey! The service was also great. The ambiance is a bit stale and formal.
There's other fish and chips in London that are just as good for a lot less money.
5.0 star rating
Sweetings has been open since 1889 which is as old school as you can get. They've been serving basically the same menu for close to 125 years. While waiting for our table, standing at the bar for an afternoon beer in a pewter mug, I spied an old menu on the wall in a frame. Sure enough it was almost the same as their current menu. You won't find anything fancy here. Just great quality fish, prepared simply well. And it's only open 3 and a half hours a day Monday through Friday (11:30 to 3pm). I took a yelper's advice and showed up right at 11:30 am to avoid a queue. I'm thinking the having a beer first is part of the tradition as we were still taken to the bar for about 15 minutes until our table was ready.
We started off with a crab bisque and a lobster bisque soup. I only took one photo since they looked exactly the same. However doing a side by side taste test, they were totally different. I loved both of them. The Lobster bisque had a much bolder wine flavor to it. Neither was very creamy and was more of a tomato broth. I'm guessing they use rice starch rather than cream to thicken up the bisque. I prefered the crab bisque just a little bit more than the Lobster, but my brother enjoyed the Lobster more. At only £5.50 each, if you don't mind sharing soup, I would get both and do your own tasting.
Next up was an excellent appetizer of Scallops & Bacon. I could have eaten this all day. Perfectly buttery lightly seared scallops wrapped in bacon served on a large scallop shell. It's a tried and true formula for sure and it works every time.
The daily special appetizer was not so excellent however. Crab cakes served with a very spicy Thai chili dipping sauce. Considering how simple the main menu is, a Thai flavor seemed a little out of place for the restaurant to me. But really the problem was that the crab cakes were just way too much breading, way too little crab.
For the main courses we shared the Dover Sole, the Halibut, Scampi, and the Chef's Fish Pie. The price ranges are all over the place with these dishes. The Fish pie was the most reasonable at £13.50 and the Dover Sole the other extreme of the menu at £31. The fish pie is the best I've had. Huge chunks of Salmon, Halibut, and a few other white fishes all baked in a rich tasty cream sauce, topped with mashed potatoes and browned. If I worked nearby, this would be my lunch dish for sure.
Since London is only 76 miles from Dover, I felt I had to try the Dover Sole. Sucker? Maybe. But at least I'm pretty sure I'm getting the real thing. The porterhouse of fish it's always called. All fish here can be either fried, grilled, or poached. It's best to ask your waiter, which preparation works best with what fish. He recommended poached with a side of hollandaise sauce. By request, your waiter will debone the fish for you, so while it doesn't really make for a nice presentation, I knew he would do a better job than we would. Don't expect any seasoning in this preparation, but after I just added a pinch of table salt along with a little bit of hollandaise in each bite, it was heavenly. That said, I'm not sure I wouldn't have also enjoyed any of their other more reasonably priced fish served the same way.
We had the Halibut fried. I learned on my last trip to England that it's common for the British to leave the skin on their fish when doing fish and chips. Us Americans, look at this as kind of crazy, but it's your dish. Having tried it on the last visit, I'm not a fan of the skin on. It doesn't get crunchy, but just seems like slimy fish skin in between the batter and the fish. That said, I totally forgot to ask for it without here. Actually didn't think I'd have to in such a fine restaurant. But let's just chuck this up to "Lost in Translation". It was a shame because this was a huge piece of fine Halibut, but as we flaked it away from the skin, we lost most of the tasty breading. The fried scampi were perfect however and would also be something to be ordered on a regular basis here if you are a local. They were huge and a great excuse to dip in their tartare sauce. No meal would be complete without some chips. I'm guessing that Sweetings double fries them. They had a nice crispness about them, but weren't overdone.
I can see why the other reviews here are 3 and 4 stars. It's somewhere between 4 and 5 stars for me. But since Sweetings has been open for business since the reign of Queen Victoria, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and round it up to 5 stars.