But it's not just having four restaurants in one that makes Smiths an über venue but the covers it can process. The 2nd floor Dining Room room for example seats 130, and with the first dinner sitting at 6pm (table back by 7:45pm), it can turn tables up to three times in a night. Together with lunch, on the best of days, it could serve north of 400 people. Even the top end top floor seats 70. This is simply a huge operation then and for the year to May 2011, sales at Smiths were a staggering £9.8m. A single post on Smiths therefore hardly scratches the surface of their offering.
I've eaten at Smiths many times before, in every area of the building and 10 years ago, it was my go to place for a steak as meat provenance featured highly on Smiths' menu long before it became common currency elsewhere. Located opposite Smithfield market, delivering good steaks was an obvious direction in which to take the restaurant and owner John Torode also has a cookbook simply called 'Beef'. Indeed, Smithfield has been a chartered cattle market since 1638 and local road names like Cowcross Street point to the stampeding cattle routes of the past, more often than not seeing the beasts entering shops en route and thought to be the origin of the phrase 'a bull in a china shop'.
Time has actually been kind to Smiths as it continues to feel relevant. It also remains popular, but it undoubtedly has felt the competition from the likes of Goodman and Hawksmoor in the carnivore market. Today though, it was not the top floor steaks on the menu for me but a more informal dinner with a friend in the second floor dining room. Starters here include the likes of mussels, grilled mackerel, chicken liver parfait and Thai beef salad and are priced between £7 - £9. My friend passed on a starter while I opted for the day's special, a lamb and ricotta ravioli. This delivered well on flavour but the pasta was too thick making the ravioli edges far too much hard work, a shame as the lamb filling was excellent.
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