Sunday, October 08, 2006

Smiths of Smithfields

Smiths of Smithfields

My search for the finest steak in London continued unabated this weekend. Out of nowhere it seems I can't help myself from booking into restaurants that serve the best beef that the capital has to offer. It must be something to do with autumn. Summer salads are a distant memory, I have to book the plumber to check the boiler and I've unpacked all my winter coats, so my palate is craving meat, dairy and the smell of slow cooking in the house.
Smiths occupies four floors on Charterhouse Street bang next door to Smithfields Market with each floor offering something distinct. The bottom floor is a boozer, the second floor a cocktail bar, there's a dining room on the third and fine dining on the fourth. I'd eaten here before with varying degrees of success over the years. The dining room do served up some pretty good burgers and I'd always eaten well, if a touch indifferently when I came. This was my first time in the top floor. We started in the cocktail lounge on the second floor, which is all red leather booths and more sedate than the boozer on the ground floor, which given its industrial d├ęcor is, unsurprisingly, bloody noisy. The bison martini I had was a bit of a girl drink but refreshing and packed a punch that put me in the mood for steak, so up the stairs we trotted.

As you ascend the last set of stairs and close the heavy door behind you, the noise of the previous three floors vanishes and you are in slightly more rarefied white linen and dark wood surroundings, with some great views over the city. As with Hawksmoor last week, the menu was meticulous in its description of where produce had been sourced. There’s an impressive array of beef, all aged for around 23 or 24 days and leaning towards more interesting rump cuts. I started with salt and pepper squid, which was competently done and quite the healthy sized portion. The beef carpaccio with blue cheese was spot on, a real gem; melt in the mouth and backed up by the strong creamy cheese. Really very good.

My main was rump of 24 day aged Old Hereford with a side of mash. I know you’re not meant to go to restaurants on Saturday’s , I know the staff dislike the tourist element, as they see it, but I do expect my steak to be warm when it turns up. Yes, I had asked for it rare, but it really wasn’t that hot when it was put down in front of me. The meat was superb, no denying it, velvety, stunning texture and full of flavour. Just frikkin cold.


Bonnie said...

Oh god that sucks not getting a warm steak! Only blue steaks should be cold! Eeeek. What a bummer. Smiths definitely do an awesome steak. I got to try one at their stall at the Taste of London. The best steak I've ever had... not that that is saying much...

Krista said...

Just curious if you talked to your server about the temperature of the meat? I've eaten on the top floor of Smiths, and the service has always been pretty good. Did they have any comment?

cookiecrumb said...

They gave you a cold steak because you declared the bison martini a "girl drink." (Was it pink or something? The martini, I mean.)

Anonymous said...

I've never found anywhere that can do a steak as well as you can at home. I just dont think restaurants can take as much care to get it just how you like it. And I dont think you'll get as top quality steak as you can pick up from Northfield farm at Borough. Grab one of their T bones, season for a good 6 hours before (i know they say you shouldn't) and cook as you like, for me thats about 3 mins a side in a hot buttered pan.