DISCLAIMER: Okay, I have to confess that this post doesn’t really fit with the ‘student eating’ vibe – it was a very generous pre-graduation treat – but it was too good not to blog about.
Following the (probably permanent) closure of Fabric, it’s fair to say that fewer people will be tempted to venture into Farringdon on a Friday night. However, one should not assume that Fabric is the only attraction in Farringdon worth travelling for – indeed, its neighbour (SMITHS of Smithfield) could credibly argue otherwise. The venue is spread over 4 floors, with a marked transition from a bar on the ground floor (which offers £6 cocktails from 8pm-10pm during the week #bargain), to fine dining on the top floor. Whilst SMITHS and Fabric perhaps don’t share the same clientele, the former does offer something for everyone, and whether it’s the second-floor ‘SOS Craft Market’, or the less creatively-named top-floor ‘Top Floor’, it is definitely worth a trip.
What do they do?
SMITHS has more than just a name in common with Smithfield Market – it, too, prides itself on a broad, high-quality range of meats. There is perhaps an equally broad array of fish dishes, too, but unsurprisingly a distinct lack of vegetarian options.
What did we have?
My brother and I shared two starters: Seared Orkney Scallops; and, Dorset Snails. Anyone who ever had the fortune of having dinner at St John’s will be well-acquainted with scallops – pretty much a no-brainer for the fish course for whoever’s selecting the menu. The scallops at John’s are decent, but could not compare with those at Smiths – accompanied by (among other things) Enoki Mushroom and Sea Lettuce, and presented artistically, this was an excellent dish. I was a little more apprehensive of the snails, having never (as far as I can remember) had them before, but I wasn’t let down. The snails were joined by Serrano Ham and a delightful puree, as well as Sourdough. Being a rookie, I struggled a little with eating snails in a dignified manner, but the combo was easily worth losing one’s dignity for. Others around the table had Steak Tartare, White Peach, and Salt & Pepper Squid – strong reviews all round.
I then (unimaginatively) went for the 28-day aged Charolais Rump, cooked rare; others went for Veal Sirloin, Roast Monkfish, and Cornish Lamb. There’s only so much one can say about a steak, but this was the best Rump I’ve had, and perhaps second only to a Fillet that I once had (cooked blue, at Hawksmoor Guildhall). It was cooked to perfection and was clearly a cut (if you’ll pardon the pun) above any Rump you’d find at a normal steakhouse. It could’ve easily been eaten without any sauce, but the allure of Pepper Sauce was too great – another classic combo, but if it ain’t broke….
For dessert, I went for the Lemon Drizzle Cake, with matching sorbet and curd. I was ridiculed for having a supposedly dull option, but – as Alan Partridge might say – needless to say, I had the last laugh. The organised mess that arrived erupted with lemon flavours in every form and temperature imaginable – it was soon the envy of those who’d prematurely written off my choice (although Laura did deem her brownie-based dessert to be the best she’d ever had – high praise indeed).
Courtesy of my brother, we began the meal with a celebratory bottle of West Sussex Sparkling Wine, which was delightfully dry and drinkable. We followed this with Brouilly (Château de Pierreux), which also went down a treat.
Value for money: 4/5 – the meal was not cheap (and certainly not in keeping with my student-orientated approach), but the food was superb.
Pretentiousness: 2/5 – we were transported from the ground floor in a groovy velvet lift, but that was about the extent of any pretentiousness. Good form.
Atmosphere: 4/5 – the top floor has great views across the city (admittedly overly crane-ridden), and the ground floor was buzzing by the time we left – plenty going on.
SMITHS was a fantastic meal, and I’d definitely return. Returning to the second or third floor for a more realistic student meal might be too much of a temptation to resist. Watch this space!