Nestled deep in the heart of ‘Smooth-Fields’, to give the area its historical name, lies ‘SMITHS’ of Smithfields bar & restaurant London. This grade-II listed, four-floor gastronomic church may as well be dedicated to the meat-market this location is best-known for and attracts a vast array of gourmand pilgrims from the four corners of the nation. Amen to that we say.
Opened in 2000 by John Torode, (then Australian chef and author of cookbooks ‘Beef’ and ‘Chicken and other Birds’, now presenter of Masterchef), this is a multi-faceted foodie paradise that truly has a little something for everyone.
By day, the ground floor riot of NYC-style exposed brickwork, raw concrete and timber is the place to be for pre-work breakfasts and long leisurely lunches; a deep, smokey Haddock fishcake with mushy peas and a perfectly poached egg joins meatier teammates such as a 5oz Rump Steak, served in an open-faced sandwich of caramelised onions and punchy mustard mayo in a bid for your affections.
Come night-time and this floor is a whole new world entirely as the raucous yet convivial post-work crowd stake their claim on the bar for blended scotches and a decent wine list.
In contrast, the Top Floor plays host to those looking for a higher-end experience with a fantastic fine-dining menu to get one’s teeth into. Come for the panoramic views and Smoked Venison Saddle or Dover Sole Meuniere, stay for the carafes of wine and mighty fine selection of top cigars.
On our visit, we had but a mini trip up in the handy lifts to the Dining Room for our ‘SMITHS’ experience. Though quieter than it’s rowdy little brother downstairs, there was still a decent buzz to the space creating a lively atmosphere… just not at the expense of table-top conversation.
The food is the right side of upmarket, it’s properly sourced, beautifully presented and well-conceived without being pretentious or cliquey. When you use ingredients this decent, you’ve no need to cover it up with foams and overcomplicated seasonings.
Over a glass or two of light 2013 Prosecco Spumanti, a beautiful duo of starters got the juices flowing with a stirfry-like Lucky Squid dish with Chinese broccoli and a delectable crispy garlic just edging the smooth-as-butter Chicken Liver Parfait. On our next visit, we most definitely have our eyes on the Dry-Aged Rump Carpaccio with celery and blue cheese or the Scallops, peas, bacon and crispy leek offerings.
Now, listen up readers because what we are about to tell you is serious business. The côte de boeuf we ordered for main course has to be one of the best darn steaks that we here at Townfish have EVER had our carnivorous little chops around. Ordered so rare it was basically still moo-ing and more than enough for two, this South Devon beef rib had the perfect sear around the outside with a bright red centre, plates piled high with a holy trinity of side dishes such as creamy mash, field mushrooms and seasonal veg, a stellar Bernaise sauce completing a thoroughly accomplished course.
If red meat is not your bag, we spied a fantastic-looking Clay Roast Chicken filled to the brim with sage stuffing that may do the job very nicely.
The meal was rounded off by an exquisite Tasting Board of desserts. Ranging from sticky Mud Pies to velveteen Cheesecakes, it was the date-laden Sticky Toffee Pudding we ordered on the side that was the star attraction. A pair of standout postprandial cocktails in the form of an Ocho Tequila-laden ‘Smoking Gun’ and Espresso Martini brought this gastronomic fairy-tale to a perfect happy ending as we headed downstairs to join the Thursday night revelers.
SMITHS of Smithfields is one of those truly ‘London’ joints, celebrating our history and traditions whilst being instrumental in our culinary progress. It’s a little something for everyone without ever losing what it stands for. In short, there is no reason- whatever the season, weather, company or occasion- why this Farringdon location (or its younger sibling in Spitalfields) shouldn’t be your next port of call.