Rök Smokehouse restaurant review: ‘knocking on the door of perfect’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:26 19 August 2016

Beef with creamed cow's curd and soft herb vinegar at Rok Smokehouse

Beef with creamed cow's curd and soft herb vinegar at Rok Smokehouse


Chef Matt Young has opened a new Rök Smokehouse in Upper Street, in the wake of success in his east London branch.

London is living up to its name as the Big Smoke – we smoke everything these days. But into the place of pulled pork and ribs come the more refined methods involved in Nordic cuisine.

Chef Matt Young has opened a new Rök Smokehouse in Upper Street, in the wake of success in his east London branch.

My access to Nordic food has been limited so far, so the number of unpronounceable words on the menu did nothing but excite me.

At a large oak table, carved into like a 15-year-old’s school desk, we started with two pickle appetisers (£3 each).

Sour and almost-but-not-quite too salty, their presentation in hipster-appropriated jam jars didn’t seem inauthentic in the context. We chose gherkin/shallot and cabbage/garlic.

Saving the dregs to eat with our first course, we were welcomed by yet another helping of pickles on the charcuterie board (£6). Also served with toasted sourdough, the bresaola and two salamis married with its smoky flavour perfectly.

The guinea fowl pâté starter with knäckebröd and fermented cloudberry was my highlight (£3.50).

The apricot and red wine flavours of the dish cut through the smooth and devilishly rich pâté, and I agreed with our waiter that I’d have been happy with a spoon and bucket of the stuff.

For my date’s main, more guinea fowl followed, this time served on the bone with cured pork, pickled mushroom and sea purslane (which Google tells me is a kind of edible succulent – trendy).

I opted for beef, which was a perfect rare pink without my needing to ask and served with creamed cow’s curd and soft herb vinegar that complemented each other beautifully.

Potato gratin with Swedish anchovies and a preserved tomato salad with stale bread (that’s on the menu, not a critique), both £6, accompanied the mains.

Swapping cuts of meat between our plates, we polished off everything down to the last delicious morsel.

Attempting to order the dark chocolate mousse with pale ale peanut butter ice cream to share for dessert, our assertive waiter wouldn’t allow it, instead recommending the wood smoked peach with frosted almonds, cream and crisp Laphroaig honey (both £6).

He didn’t meet much resistance and we practically licked the plate clean.

With the bird and beef at £16 and £18 respectively, it’s a little pricey. But for food of this calibre, it’s worth it.

Served on dappled grey plates, each dish was beautifully presented, and without pretension.

From atmosphere to garnish, every aspect of the dining experience was knocking on the door of perfect.

We were stuffed full by the end of the evening, but only in the way that really good food can make you feel.

A truly scrumptious meal.

But, a word of warning: Don’t go to the Rök Smokehouse if you don’t like pickles. Luckily, I love ‘em.

Rök Smokehouse, 149 Upper St.

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