What's great about the top floor at Smiths is how light and airy the dining room is. With windows on two sides and an outside balcony for when the weather is a little nicer, you nest comfortably above the City with an ever improving view of London's developing skyline taking in Smithfield market, the Barbican, the City and the Shard.
The menu is mostly how I remember it though reading a touch funkier these days, but importantly, the steaks are still centre place. I've said before that the holy trinity of steak descriptions has to be country/county of origin, breed of cow and the days aged, and typically the menu at Smiths reads: Hereford Rump, 63 days Dry aged on the bone from Rg Tamblin, Liskeard Cornwall. I like that level of detail. With it too of course comes cost and you should expect to pay around £35 for a steak, prices broadly in line with Goodman.
One small quirk is that when the bread arrives, for a table of three, there's only three individual rolls, each different. Last person to the bread plate then effectively gets what's left, no choice. Butter too comes in a modest portion. For a top end dining establishment, it's a little behind the times here (at Roganic, three varieties of roll are delivered for each guests; three guests means nine rolls).
The three starters ordered are dressed crab, mackerel and squid. It's been a little while since I ate here last and the kitchen is upping the ante on both presentation and innovation, the crab coming with apple jelly and avocado ice cream while presented on pebbles with edible bread crumb sand. Not my dish and nor did I get to taste it as my friend deemed it too good to share.
My order was for the mackerel and here there was a lot going on with the plate but in a good way, enough to keep my interest rather than it being overly busy without reason. As well as the mackerel fillets there's a gorgeous mackerel pate in a beetroot jelly and more beetroot in other presentations. It's a good and generous starter. Only the squid was a modest let down: nicely cooked it provided an enjoyable first few bites but insufficient variety on the plate however soon led to waning interest.
Critically then, how did the steaks fare? Very well. We spent some time later that day discussing them and we all agreed they were very good indeed and any quibbling on the meat was mostly splitting hairs by people lucky enough to have eaten in too many places. We debated the merits of Josper cooking (Smiths does not we believe use one) and the extent to which that impacts the flavour but the bottom line is we all thoroughly enjoyed what was set in front of us.
The chips were good too both thin and fat. The thin chips looked a little pale but were in fact great to eat, and the fat chips were excellent for scooping up the bearnaise and Stilton sauces. For the mash, a heavier hand with the butter would have lifted it considerably and elevate it from the 'too close to what you can make at home' variety presented.
Overall however, all three of us were happy diners.
Our criteria then going in to today was to enjoy great steaks with friends in a convivial environment, and Smiths fully delivered on that for us. What's more, they showed us they had a few new tricks up their sleeve too. The result: everybody left happy. What more can we ask?
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