Last week, we were invited to St. Bart’s Smithfield to try out their new barbecue ‘soul food’ menu – a new selection of sandwiches, salads, sides and mains with a big focus on sustainably-sourced meat that’s been cooked and smoked using applewood from the Hush Heath Estate in Kent, where they make their award-winning English wines and Kentish ciders. As butchery hotspots go, Smithfield Market is at the very heart of the action, so the meaty wares are sure to be subject to some tough scrutiny.
The style of the new menu taps into the current trend for barbecue geekery, as burned sausages and shop-bought burgers cooked over a disposable tray no longer cut the mustard for discerning outdoor cooking lovers. The brains behind the new menu have certainly put some thought into this, drawing influences from South West America including “pit master low- and slow-cooking” and techniques inspired by Basque country charcoal grilling.
The result is a well-structured menu of simple but appealing dishes with some nice twists. Sandwiches of pulled pork or thick slices of brisket are packed between two halves of a challah bread roll – a savoury spin on the classic brioche burger bun. ‘Burnt Ends’ are a highlight from the starters – crispy, blackened shreds of beef which are no doubt a by-product of one of the steaks from the menu, and so a nice nod to nose-to-tail eating. To finish, there’s only one dessert, but it’s sure to hit the spot for any sweet-tooth: a towering, satisfyingly nostalgic knickerbockerglory.
It’s elevated pub food, cooked with passion, at a decent price. Laurence Bowes, a director with Hush Heath Estate, sums it up nicely: “We’re not trying to reinvent the industry or even to be the very best in London. The industry is already altering people’s perceptions of quality meats and barbecued food – St Bart’s is coming along for the ride. What we are doing is offering real food, cooked well and served in a relaxed environment.”
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