Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Restaurant review: Smokehouse, Islington

Smokehouse is a shrine to smoked meats, housed in a recently converted pub on the residential outskirts of Islington.
It’s located on the not-much–to-speak-of Canonbury Road. Hoping for a homage to the generous barbecue joints we found in Chicago, we tried our luck for a table on a Friday evening.

Smokehouse is from the people behind The Princess of Shoreditch (as well as a few other smart pubs), which is one of my favourite places to while away a Sunday afternoon. So I had high hopes, which were amply met.

It’s a good atmosphere in here. 
It’s like Bodean's, if Boden's focused more on the food than the fiesta. 
And it's like Meat Mission, if Meat Mission applied their craft to the menu, instead of the beards on the bar staff.

It’s dark, with low tables packed in together convivially. 

The menu is genuinely interesting. I had chopped brisket roll to start, followed by peppered ox cheek and cauliflower cheese.

A light supper

It strikes the right balance between obvious deliciousness and experimentation. Courses like The Sphere or Burnt leeks with artichoke, are balanced with out-and-out crowd-pleasers like crab on toast; foie gras, apple pie and duck egg; and shortrib bourguignon.


The staff were excellent – the kind who embrace a customer like me who asks them to recommend something.
They seemed genuinely passionate, about the concept and the menu. 
We even wangled an illicit tour to their smoker in the backyard, thanks to a maverick waiter buoyed by our praise of the brisket.

Smokehouse’s stock in trade is incredibly rich, deep-flavoured meats, expertly cooked.

It’s the sort of meal where you can’t do much afterwards but go and digest it.

I hope the location of Smokehouse doesn't undo their good work. It’s a bit too far off the circuit to wander past by accident. The food is worth the detour, so let's hope if salience fails, their smokers fill the Islington air with invitation. 

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