I like to think that I’m committed to you. I’m at roast number 74 this week, with another 150 or so on the to-do list. There is no stopping me. Only death, unemployment or a girlfriend…and a girlfriend is the least likely. Interestingly my employers have asked for my feedback on their new social media policy before they publish it. They want my expertise. Erm…I can advise them that you shouldn’t refer to your manager as “The Internet Gestapo” on a blog. That was quite a few years ago now.
One of the intriguing aspects that comes with roast dinner fame and…yeah…just fame, is that people want to invite me around for a roast dinner.
Not only that, but they want me to come around on a Sunday for a Sunday roast. Even randoms sometimes invite me. Which I’m honoured about…but what about you? What about my commitment to my dear readers? How the hell am I going to get through my to-do list of 150 places? Which is only going higher…about a quarter of my Google Chrome tabs are places to add to my to-do list. I have a lot of tabs.
This isn’t very interesting is it?
Shall we just have a laugh at Katie Hopkins going into insolvency proceedings?
Go on, give it a full-on belly laugh. Even if you are on a tube. Especially if you are on a tube.
Doesn’t that feel good. Normally I wouldn’t laugh at anyone’s misfortune…but in her case…
The beauty of irony.
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Smith’s of Smithfield is a Young’s establishment split onto 4 floors. The ground floor was a pretty high-end pub – I didn’t stay to look around but it seems to have a good selection of craft beers. The first floor was a cocktail bar – not open on a Sunday. The second floor, also not open on a Sunday was a steak-type of restaurant. Finally on the 3rd floor was the imaginatively-named No 3 Restaurant, replete with dining room and terrace. Yes – you can have a roast here with a view of the Shard, St Pauls and other buildings that we should block the view of.
And it was a proper dining room. The staff were all very smartly dressed as were all of the customers but one. Me. There I entered in my denim shorts, faded t-shirt and fraying trainers, hairy legs on show with added recent leg scar.
I knew that it was a bit upmarket, and I did vaguely have a concern that I may be too, erm…ugly, fat, scruffy and common as fuck, for them. Not to mention skint. Why the hell was I going somewhere upmarket when so skint?
But they welcomed me in. As the restaurant was around half full, they offered me a choice of tables, though advised against sitting near the large group so it would be less noisy. Impressed already.
However. Good service, nicely laid tables and smartly dressed people do not make a roast dinner. Whilst I knew Smith’s did really good food, translating that into a roast dinner is another question. Time and again I’ve been to what I know is a good restaurant, but they’ve provided a disappointing roast dinner. Looking at you Hawksmoor.
Would this fall in the same trap?
Accompanying me was a good friend of mine who originates from Greece. We were supposed to have another accomplice but he was unable to make it – probably wise in hindsight as he is a vegetarian…ish…and there is not one vegetarian dish on the menu. Behold the light! A fully meat-focused restaurant, completely unafflicted by Time Out’s vegan conspiracy. Can I just give them a 10? There wasn’t even a vegetarian starter. I was in love, and not just with the waitress.
On offer in terms of a roasting were corn-fed chicken, slow-cooked shoulder of lamb and 28 day aged sirloin beef, priced at 17, 19 and 21 respectively. I had hoped that it was priced in Venezuelan bolivars (or some other socialist currency), but alas when it came to paying, I found out that was priced in sterling.
The restaurant also specialised in wine, and there was a whole book to choose and confuse. And it wasn’t cheap either – there were some bottles around the £35 mark, sorry, I mean around 35. But most was much higher priced. In the end I plumped for the waitress’s suggestion which I think was a Malbec or a Merlot – and was exquisitely nice. I was more concerned about the price – and it was around £10 for a small glass. I remember at university I used to pay £5 for two bottles.
Dinner took around 30 minutes, maybe longer, to arrive. The longer you wait…the higher chance of a crispy roast potato.
Starting with the carrots, which had been chopped multifariously, and seemingly oven roasted – they still had a bit of crunch to them.
Then there was a scattering of red onion slices – I think for the first time in a roast. These also definitely had a bit of crunch to them, they were just lightly softened. For personal tastes I’d have liked them softer, but it wasn’t quite the type of place that was going to ask how soft you like your onions.
The green beans were plentiful and pretty much spot-on in terms of texture and quality.
The cauliflower cheese came in one of those trendy mini-saucepans, and without a spoon was quite awkward to assimilate onto the plate. It was rather creamy – less cheesy than I’d prefer too…although that may also have something to do with my tempered tastebuds having had a cold…and being northern.
So far so good – nothing to complain about but nothing to eulogise about. However, here comes the roast potatoes. Murderer. I’m a lyrical northerner.
5 roast potatoes. Do you read that? 5. FIVE. Five. Cinco. Cinc. Not 3. Not 2. F I V E. Why is it standard to give only 3 roast potatoes out? Maybe he knew I was there…the chef has already commented on the Instagram post.
And you know what? They were really good. Pretty crispy on the outside, albeit smoothly so. Soft on the inside and smothered in duck fat. I’ve had better – but very rarely in a London establishment.
The Yorkshire pudding was also excellent. Exactly how it should be; fairly large, crispy around the edge – but not too much, and soft on the bottom. Very much spot on in terms of structure.
It didn’t appear to be the most generous of chicken portions, but it was a generous quarter. Generous because it was a corn-fed chicken. The skin had really crisped up wonderfully, the chicken breast was soft and succulent. It was again really, thoroughly enjoyable.
Amazingly there wasn’t enough gravy in the thimble. At least it was gravy though. I didn’t at first dare ask for more, but I succumbed to implementing my northern charm. The gravy itself seemed quite oily, though I don’t know whether that was the excess duck fat from the beautiful roast potatoes. It didn’t try to do anything special – not trying to outdo the taste from the rest of the dinner. And hell, it wasn’t jus.
No vegetarian option, no jus, excellent roast potatoes and the first waitress that I’d fallen in love with for months. What had I done to deserve this?
My accomplice really enjoyed his meal too – he had the sirloin which was also spot on. I asked him for a rating and he advised between 8 and a 9. Which is not how we do things here – we don’t give a range. But hey, Greeks are not exactly know for their reliable numeracy.
I have to say that I was really impressed. Service was excellent – attentive when necessary – they knew what they were doing and were actually worth the 12.5% service charge. The venue was great, a really nice restaurant that you could take the future in-laws too – yet I didn’t feel unwelcome in my scruffy northern techie twat clothes. The important parts of the roast were very good, if not excellent – the less important were good. Have I mentioned the waitress?
I’m giving it an 8.50 out of 10. Yeah halfway between and 8 and a 9. I don’t like rating things this highly. Let’s finish this quickly before I change my mind.
Next Sunday the plan is an east London special. Well, it might not be special. And Hurricane Florence if you are reading – don’t even dare think about heading here for next Sunday.
Smith’s Of Smithfield, Farringdon, Central London
Tube Lines: Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan Line
Fare Zone: Zone 1