Restaurant review: Smithfield Bar and Grill, EC1

Jon Dean tucks into the daddy of all steaks

�The area of Smithfield has a long and bloody history.

Throughout the centuries it has been the scene of many an execution, including Scots patriot William Wallace and the leader of the peasants revolt Wat Tyler.

It has also spent more than 800 years as a place where animal flesh is traded, so it is a fitting backdrop to Smithfield Bar and Grill, a restaurant that takes meat pretty seriously.

The place has specialist steaks aplenty. On our visit, the guest beast was the Limousin cow – originally a French animal that was brought to the UK about 40 years ago and are prized by farmers for their lean cuts.


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Intimate

The grill is run by Blackhouse, a northern company, so the staff are as friendly, helpful and down-to-earth as you would expect, which is particularly welcome in such plush surroundings, in which intimate booths and draped curtains are all beautifully lit by chandeliers.

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Although a lot of the menu is meat-orientated, there is plenty on offer to tempt those of a more delicate appetite, with salads, fish and veg all well-represented. The wine list is long and varied and we ordered a tasty Chilean Merlot in anticipation of the feast to follow.

After a brief dalliance with some bread and olives, the starters came thick and fast. My oven baked Camembert with toasted croute (savoury biscuit type things) and cranberry salsa was an absolute delight.

The cheese was predictably rich, with an aromatic hint of rosemary, and was a delicious foil to the dry bread and tangy cranberry.

Then came the garlic king prawns. Anyone who knows me will tell you, I am easily swayed by a prawn, and if there is garlic involved, all bets are off. Served whole, these chaps took a bit of dexterity to decapitate and de-leg, but that only made each mouthful more of a treat. The soft bread was a must to mop up the sumptuous, buttery sauce.

True to her abstemious nature, while I contemplated the red meat, my girlfriend hit the seafood, specifically the smoked haddock with wilted baby spinach, poached egg and b�arnaise sauce.

The more I try it, the more I like an egg with an evening meal – it can work with salads and pizzas – and it certainly did the business here. The combination of the smokey fish, piquant sauce, egg and champ potatoes was truly something to behold.

Whilst I wouldn’t say my palette was particularly refined, I do eat a lot of steak, so the opportunity to eat the so called daddy of all cuts was to good to miss.

The concept of the Wagyu Kobe fillet is exported from Japan and, along with Sumo Wrestling, is surely is one of their finest.

The young bovine is fed a beer diet from a young age and given regular massages to keep the meat tender. Wagyu beef, marbled and textured, is reputed to be the most succulent and tasty meat in the world and, while this is quite a bold claim, my steak was a triumph.

Indulgence

Cooked rare, it literally melted in my mouth and the strong flavour made the accompanying sauce a luxury, not a necessity.

I don’t think I spoke once until I had polished it off. In fact it was so tasty I wanted it to be the last thing on my palette, so we eschewed pudding for a cheeky cocktail – a margarita and a passionfruit sling to be precise, which washed down dinner nicely.

Smithfield Bar and Grill grill is no throw away midweek meal as it is not the cheapest place in town. But the excellence of the food and quality of the staff make it the perfect venue for a celebration, or just a well-deserved indulgence.

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