Peter Morrell and his wife discover that this well know restaurant has been totally refurbished and has a brand new menu offering a range of fresh and innovative dishes
After twenty years under the direction of TV Chef John Torode Smiths of Smithfield was taken over by Young’s earlier this year . A complete refurbishment program and a brand new menu has breathed a new lease of life into this iconic restaurant located in one of London’s most historic areas.
The new restaurant is huge, there is a bar on the ground floor with an alfresco area at the front of the building for summer dining and drinking. On the first floor the ‘Death and Victory’ bar is named after ‘Braveheart’ William Wallace who was executed nearby for treason. The bar’s cocktail list is divided into sections and the drinks draw their inspiration from each century since the death of Wallace.
On the top floor is a terrace which serves high end food and offers extensive views across the City of London with the dome of St Paul’s as the dominant landmark. We ate on the second floor in The Grill which majors on steaks and reflects the restaurant’s proximity to Smithfield meat market which dates back to the 10th century. The décor in the dining space of The Grill is stunning, it’s a cavernous space which allows the tables to be well spaced, the walls are exposed brickwork and there are massive wooden beams supporting the floor above.
We took a look at the menu and there was an impressive array of steaks with individual cuts up to 16oz. There were also three sharing options including the classic Côte de Boeuf and the ever favourite Chateaubriand which are both sold by weight.
For the less committed carnivore the were numerous exciting alternatives. The starter section appealed to every taste, there was gin cured Scottish salmon, a vegetarian tarte tatin of shallots, nettles and goat’s cheese and seared Cornish scallops. After a lot of deliberation my wife chose the squid and I had the Devon crab.
When the food arrived its beautiful presentation made it looked very appetising and the taste was as good at the visual appeal. My wife’s squid had been charred to give it a pleasing umami flavour, it was moist and tender. Enhanced by roast Nutbourne tomatoes, spring onions, and smoked chilli dressing it was a clever combination of textures and flavours.
My crab was a fresh and innovative multi-layered dish. A bed of salad made with Markham Farm asparagus salad had a citrus dressing, the next layer was a generous portion of crab and this was topped with a thin slice of toasted bread spread with crab pâté. I liked every mouthful of this dish, it was bright and uplifting.
The list of mains was equally interesting, the ultimate mixed grill with a list of items as long as your arm was a big draw as was the vegan friendly black quinoa, pumpkin, spring greens, avocado, beetroot and pumpkin seed salad. My wife’s selection was the day boat fish and I had the beefburger. I invariably have a beefburger in a restaurant as it’s easier to make comparisons between establishments. A good one usually indicated the quality of all the food.
When the dishes arrived they looked attractive, the fish of the day was hake served with herb roasted Jersey Royals, brown shrimp butter, samphire and purple sprouting broccoli, although my wife did swap out the potatoes for triple cooked chips. The fish was light and delicate and had been cooked for the right length of time. It worked well with the broccoli and the brown shrimp butter and samphire added other dimensions,
My ‘SMITHS’ Burger was fully loaded with cheese, ale onions, shredded lettuce, ketchup, mayo and slices of wally (pickle if you’re not a Londoner) all sandwiched between a brioche bun. This was a good one, the meat was open textured, juicy and had lots of flavour, adding to this the other ingredients and the generous portion of fries made it highly satisfying.
The wine list was both catergorised and there were pairing recommendations for the steaks like Argentinian malbecs, a rioja and good examples from Italy. Our wine pairing for the evening was the very on trend white, the Picpoul de Pinet, Esprit Marin from the Languedoc in France. It had refreshing lemon and lime aromas in the bouquet and on the palate showed green fruit and herbal notes with lively acidity that matched the fish and the burger perfectly.
Although the puddings and cheese all looked good the large portions of the first two courses had filled us up and my wife could only manage a decaf cappuccino. I did spot the well respected Jude’s ice cream on the menu and made room for a vanilla and chocolate delight.
If you want to enjoy innovative food in an atmospheric dining space with friendly and efficient service then Smiths of Smithfield could be just the place you are looking for. Smiths is also great value for money, expect to pay around £50-60pp including drinks and service.
Smiths of Smithfield
67-77 Charterhouse St
London EC1M 6HJ
020 7251 7950