SMITHS of Smithfield on the 2nd Floor: The Dining Room
We last reviewed SMITHS’, specifically the top-rated top floor restaurant, in January last year, so it was interesting to come back and check out the slightly less posh-feeling restaurant on the floor below.
The whole building is metro industrial; the double-height rooms on each floor with the exposed pipe work feel vast but not cold because they are cheered up by the red-tones of upholstery, the orange of the bare brick, and the clever warm lighting. Through the large windows, you get a great view of the top of Smithfield Market and the Statue of Justice on the rooftop horizon.
For those who don’t know it, SMITHS is a four floor operation comprising primarily three restaurants/bars all serving differing food options, although given its location opposite London’s main meat market, meat dishes tend to dominate. There is also a further floor with a new specialist bar specialising in craft beers, plus private function rooms.
The ground floor is occupied by a lively, and often very noisy, bar/eatery serving what might be described as the Smiths version of fast food including an extensive all-day breakfast menu. It is open throughout the day and evening seven days a week and is busy much of the time. At weekends it serves a popular brunch.
As you progress upwards through the building, in theory you are accessing what might be considered superior dining options. Thus on the second floor is SMITH’S ‘Dining Room’ – emphasis on wood decor – wood floors, wood tables and chairs, exposed beams and exposed brickwork walls, which is where we were headed.
Carrying on upwards is the gourmet Top Floor dining room and terrace. In comparison with the noisier and darker dining options below, the Top Floor restaurant is bright and airy with the south and west walls all floor to ceiling glass and a much calmer ambience. The brightness is helped further with all the tables covered in crisp white linen tablecloths – and the views from both the terrace and the restaurant over the Smithfield market rooftops towards St Paul’s and with the Shard in the distance are quite spectacular.
On this occasion, though, we were having a very early lunch in the 2nd floor Dining Room and stepped into almost an empty restaurant when we first arrived. Before long, the room was almost full. I had read comments that this floor gets very noisy. With not a soft furnishing in sight, I was keeping an eager ear out for this, but I honestly didn’t feel overwhelmed by the chitter-chatter at all. I’m getting on, though, so perhaps it might annoy a younger visitor; although my logic says that younger visitors would enjoy the busy vibe and also wouldn’t be bothered. The venue is certainly not delicate or intimate or cosy, but spacious and efficient and functional are the words more readily coming to mind.
The SMITHS’ Second Floor Dining Room
Getting there early, we had our pick of tables, sat down and were offered water. We chose still but I’m sure we could have asked for tap and it wouldn’t have been a problem.
The menus arrived and my partner and I did our normal trick of red for him and white for me, which gives us more to feedback on. I requested an easy-drinking white and the wine waitress suggested several options of wines by the glass ranging in price from £5.50 to £10.50 for a small glass (175 ml) or £7.50 to £15 for a 250 ml glass. I settled on the suggested Albarino (£13.75) and my partner enjoyed the Malbec (£13) – both large glass sizes and both very good.
The menus arrived and our waitress had some recommendations which I took her up on.
The Sharing Platter (£18.50) is the perfect choice for a review because it gave us a wide selection from the Starters menu. It is quite greedy just for two of us, but a perfect dish to share socially with friends.
The Sharing Platter includes:
BBQ Ribs: delicious and bite-sized but you’ll need to lick your fingers afterwards (I’m sure the waitress would bring a bowl of water if you asked, though)
Duck Spring Rolls and Hoisin Sauce: this was one spring roll halved diagonally, so perfect for 2 but might cause an argument in a larger group because they are so delicious
Curried Crab Mayonnaise: another common favourite between the two of us. Subtle, salty and malty, the fresh taste of shellfish was a great combination with the other dishes on the platter.
Endive Salad with Smoked Bacon Lardons: my favourite but my partner wasn’t too keen; the mild bitterness of the leaf is often a “marmite” love ie you either love it or hate it
Heritage Tomato (v), Buffalo Mozzarella (v): what’s not to love about a Caprese salad?
Vegetable Antipasti (v): tasty but difficult to spoon onto our plate without a spoon, so ask for a serving spoon when you order this dish
Hummus & Focaccia (v): we both loved the nutty, semi-creamy hummus and we had a couple of slices of what seemed like thin toasted Ciabatta rather than Foccacia
BBQ Ribs, Roast Chilli Sauce £9.75
Wok Fried Prawns, Chinese Greens, Crispy Garlic, Chilli Jam £10.00
Crab, Apple, Fennel, Curried Mayonnaise, Sourdough £10.50
Spring Salad, Asparagus, Broad Beans, Fennel, Lemon & Mint Dressing £8.00
Duck Spring Rolls, Spring Onion, Cucumber, Hoisin Sauce £8.00
Seared Scallops, Peas, Crispy Bacon £12.75
‘Pappardelle, Wild Mushrooms, Garlic & Herb Crumb £9.50
‘Heritage Tomato, Buffallo Mozzarella, Basil, Capers. £8.00
‘Endive Salad, Smoked Bacon Lardons, Mustard Dressing £8.50
FOR THE TABLE:
‘SMITHS’ Focaccia & Eight Grain Bread, Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar (v) (For Two) £2.25
Add ‘SMITHS’ Dips – Tomato Salsa, Smoked Aubergine, Hummus (v) £3.50
House Marinated Green & Black Olives (v) £3.25
For the main course, my partner chose a medium-rare Fillet (£32). Smiths obviously know their meat and if you share their passion, the restaurant also offers courses in the art of butchery and how to serve meat. The course arrived and it was a sizeable piece, seasoned and prepared very well but surprisingly quite tough and chewy. I offered to swap, because I actually enjoy this kind of texture, but my partner refused, so it can’t have been too disappointing. It was cooked to perfection, but the lack of tenderness was something of a disappointment. The waitress did offer to change it, but we persevered as it was a tasty piece of meat.
7oz Rare Breed Fillet – from Maren Meats, London £32.00, Creamed Spinach £5.00
OTHER ‘SMITHS’ GRILLS:
Everything from the Grill is served with chips
‘SMITHS’ 9oz Beef Burger, Cheddar Cheese, Crispy Bacon, Tomato Relish £16.00
9oz South Devon Rib Eye – 28 day aged, from Steve Turton, Newton Abbot £24.00
10oz Sirloin – wet aged, from Smithfield Market £26.00
12oz Rare Breed Rump – 35 day aged, from Aubrey Allen, Warwickshire £28.00
Cote de Boeuf – 28 day aged, from Steve Turton, Newton Abbot Priced by Weight. Ask for Availability
Tomahawk For 2 Sharing – 28 day aged, from Rare Breed Meat Company, Colchester £69.00
9oz Spiced Lamb Burger, Tzatiki, Goats Cheese £17.00
Peppercorn Sauce, Bearnaise Sauce (v) £2.50
Horseradish Cream (v) £2.00
Not surprisingly, The Dining Room prides itself on its British beef but there is plenty on the menu if you’re not in the mood for steak.
The waitress had recommended the Halibut. To be honest, I’d made a bee-line for that when I’d checked out the menu earlier, so I was quite pleased that it was her suggestion too! It was perfectly delicious: firm but tender flakes with a mild, sweet-tasting flavour. The skin was seasoned well and just the right amount of crispy and I’ve never enjoyed pea puree so much before so they are getting something right. Combine that with the fresh asparagus and mild garlic Aioli sauce and you really don’t need a side dish, but I had chosen a healthy, crunchy and refreshing mixed leaf salad. My partner had swapped the chips (which come with all dishes from the grill) for creamed spinach. The spinach was nicely cooked and a great choice. Note that the Sides are quite large and easily enough for 2 or 3 people to share.
Roast Halibut, Pea Puree, Asparagus, Aioli £25.00
Honey & Five Spice Pork Belly, Greens, Pumpkin Puree, Chillies £16.00
Roast Lamb, Celeriac Puree, Spinach, Roasted Shallot, Carrot £21.00
BBQ Bourbon Chicken, Onion Puree, Coleslaw, Corn on the Cob £15.50
Red Mullet, Crushed Potatoes, Sundried Tomatoes, Capers, Tapenade £17.00
Herb Risotto, Grilled Vegetables, Twineham Grange Cheese (v) £13.50
Broccoli, Bacon & Cheese Melt £6.00
Mac & Cheese (v) £5.50
Spinach, Chilli & Garlic (v) £5.00
Creamed Spinach £5.00
Sweet Potato Wedges £4.50
Garlic Field Mushrooms £4.00
Daily Vegetables £4.00
Onion Rings £3.50
Mixed Leaves, Young Herbs, House Dressing £3.50
Heritage Tomato Salad with Basil & Capers £4.00
Caesar Salad £4.00
Onto dessert and I love my puddings so I’m quite critical. The Pavlova was near perfection. The tartiness of the sorbet combined with the cream of the Pavlova was delectable. If I had to find fault, it would be that the meringue crust was marginally too hard, but I’m scraping the barrel trying to pick on something there. To be clear, I’d go back and order it again tomorrow!
Passion Fruit Pavlova, Raspberries (v) £6.00
OTHER DESSERT OPTIONS
Snickers Cheesecake £6.25
Rice Pudding, Poached Pear (v) £6.00
‘Chocolate Fondant, Salted Caramel Ice-cream (v) £6.75
Sticky Toffee Pudding, Vanilla Ice Cream £6.75
Jude’s Ice Cream & Sorbet Selection £5.50
My partner chose the generous cheese board with 3 types of cheese, water biscuits and chutney. In my opinion, now that I’m becoming quite experienced in cheese boards, I would have liked to have seen a selection of small-portion garnishes (perhaps one for each cheese) rather than a large portion of the one savoury; I find I enjoy some cheeses with a sweeter garnish. Perhaps more choice of biscuits would also enhance the offering. The cheeses were excellent though.
CHEESE: British Cheese Board, ‘SMITHS’ Chutney, Grapes, Biscuits £8.50
We completed the meal with a very decent Espresso and Americano
The meal came to comfortably over £100 but we had chosen expensive dishes and a very full 3 courses with coffee and wine. The Dining Room can be cheaper or more expensive so it is very flexible for both lunch and dinner.
For lunch and early supper, there is a super special menu of 2 courses for £15 which looks to be a real bargain, includes the trademark burger and also a vegetarian option. More importantly, the 2 course menu includes the Pavlova!
LUNCH & EARLY EVENING MENU, 2 COURSES FOR £15
Watercress Soup, Poached Eggs (v)
Quinoa Salad, Roasted Beets, Honey Dressing (v)
Bean Salad, Salsa Verde (v)
Thai Beef Salad
‘6oz Rare Breed Beef Burger, Cheddar Cheese, Crisp Bacon, Tomato Relish
‘SMITHS’ Fish Cake, Mixed Greens
Breaded Chicken, Tomatoes, Olive Sauce
Pork Ragu, Pappardelle
Stuffed Aubergine, Pine Nuts, Feta (v)
Rice Pudding, Poached Pear (v)
Sticky Toffee Pudding, Vanilla Ice Cream (v)
Jude’s Handmade Ice Cream & Sorbet Selection (v)
Passion Fruit Pavlova, Raspberries (v)
In summary, the second floor restaurant serves a wide range of beautiful British steaks and other main course varying in price from very reasonable to “rich banker” so it can suit all purses, it is only a stone’s throw away and is offering a discount of 20% to Barbican Association members.
Top Floor Restaurant is open: Mon – Fri 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm; Saturday 6pm to 11pm; Sunday 1pm to 3:30pm.
Dining Room Mon – Fri 12 pm to 3pm, 5.30 pm to 11pm. Sat 5.30pm to 11pm.
For reservations call 020 7251 7950 or email email@example.com.