The first thing we notice when we walk through the doors at Smiths of Smithfield’s new Cannon Street restaurant is a sign on the bar that reads: “Prosecco, £17.50”. We instantly feel at home.
Smiths of Smithfield has been a go-to haunt for Clerkenwell workers for some time – its simple and earnest proposition of “steak and craft beer” is appealingly straightforward, and it’s a reliable option for almost any occasion – quick breakfast, business lunch, drinks after work – Smiths does the lot pretty well. They opened up a new bar and restaurant in Cannon Street at the end of 2016, catering to the area’s suited and booted diners. We went down to see if it stood up to its big sister’s name.
The front half of the premises contains a large, casual bar area with a smarter, slicker dining room in the back. Comfortable chairs, well-spaced tables and high-backed booths make it perfect for business lunches and dinners – you’ll never need to worry about your dealings being overheard by the table next to you.
Like the Smithfield restaurant, the dinner menu puts a heavy focus on the grill, with the provenance of the meat stated proudly alongside each steak. Smiths really are serious about their meat, though their Smithfield Market origins make it kind of impossible not to be. They work exclusively with top-notch British farmers, butchering the meat themselves on the premises.
We started with scallops, seared and served with black pudding, streaky bacon and cauliflower – a classic combination that we never get tired of eating. Also to start; bites of braised, battered and deep-fried pork cheek on a bed of apple and cardamom purée.
Staying with the surf and turf duo theme, we order the fish of the day (cod with crab cake and shrimp butter) and a 21-day aged fillet steak. Not realising it comes with chips, we greedily order two sides: mac and cheese (because why wouldn’t you?) and asparagus fries, which had been crumbed and deep-fried, to be dunked in hollandaise. Aren’t sides just the best thing about restaurants like this?
Seeing as everything was so smart and proper, it seemed rude not to round off the meal with a dessert. Plus, the espresso soufflé with brown sugar ice cream was irresistible. Perfectly risen in a proud tower from its mug, it was light, fluffy, and delicately coffee-flavoured. An espresso and a pudding rolled into one.
That’s what you get at Smiths – meaty food that means business. We left satisfied.
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