You probably expected me to have another Indian/Caribbean/Italian roast dinner to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee. In fact, I actually considered reviewing somewhere called The Queens…I don’t always have to be so obstreperous. But in the end, I booked Smokehouse in Islington.
Smokehouse has been on the to-do list since the very beginning. It has been chosen a few times by the random number generator but had always been fully booked. This time I chose it, and they had a table at 12:15pm, which gave us plenty of chance to go out and celebrate the Platty Jubes after.
Yes I am calling it the Platty Jubes.
And yes I have searched Pornhub for “platted pubes”.
Four whole days of not working. Well except for being on call. No I didn’t stay sober. Yes I did fall asleep with my phone on silent one night again. Yes I did get woken up at 5:30am. Yes I did get a “data centre is down” alert when half-cut. No I didn’t watch any of the Jubilee celebrations. Yes I did go to a street party. Of sorts:
Ahhhh Walthamstow. The weekend was almost as memorable as the Diamond Jubilee, which I only remember for it absolutely pissing down with rain all weekend.
Do you know what we celebrate if the Queen lives another 10 years? The Oak Jubilee. Oak. Yes, oak. By that time we’ll be a fascist state anyway, because OH MY GOD SOMEONE PUT FLAGS UP.
I appreciate that some of the people that lead us are morons (at least at the time of writing this paragraph…and still sadly are now I’ve finished writing the whole review), the housing is ridiculously overpriced, we do some fucking stupid shit like Brexit – but Britain isn’t actually that bad a place.
Which other country has something as archaic-sounding as a 1922 committee where the future of the Prime Minister is decided? Which other country has some nobhead who has reviewed 209 roast dinners – or hell, someone who has reviewed 620+ pies?
The politics might be disagreeable (not to all…though this is a London-based blog) but we are a collection of very unique characters, just about still free to be whatever kind of freaky, weirdo we might want to be – whether that is model train obsessives, teapot collectors, Pearly Kings & Queens – and gosh are we like the world’s capital of drag brunches? And possibly the world’s capital of drug consumption.
Gorgeous countryside, occasionally good public transport (the Lizzie line is gorgeous anyway), an obsession with tea, “interesting” weather and some 96 year-old woman who holds the glue of our disparate, quirky nonsense of a country together.
And name me another country that does Sunday roasts as good as we do?
Ahhh nearly. We nearly got him to fuck off.
A leader with any scrap of integrity would know he’s done and disappear into the American after-dinner speaking circuit. Hmmm. Integrity.
Anyway, I’m trying to say that I kind of like this country and the people in it. Especially those that read my blog. We are kind of alright. Just about.
Back onto the subject of integrity, let’s see if Smokehouse’s roast dinner has any.
On the menu was rather a range of treats – pork ribeye, which I’m not sure I’ve ever had, lamb shoulder, pulled pork shoulder, rare breed striploin or a shared whole chicken. Mostly, but not all, involved smoking.
As it was the Queen’s big weekend, I did an Instagram story to ask Instagram people what they thought the Queen would want me to have, then ignored the answer and ordered the beef, priced at £22.00 – as I thought that was what the Queen would want me to eat. Lamb was winning on the Instagram poll. Lamb. BRITAIN IS ALL ABOUT THE BEEF. Kids.
We also ordered some Argentinian Malbec, as we thought the Queen would like us to drink that. I know, but the other option was a French Malbec.
Our roast dinners took 5 minutes to arrive. 5 minutes. I know I keep doing this thing where I repeat part of what I said, as if you haven’t heard me. Heard…me. It was quite unexpected in a proper restaurant. I’d barely settled into the idea that I’d ordered something and here was my dinner.
Starting with the carrot which had been really nicely roasted, was super soft inside with a nice unburnt roasted edge – and was packed full of flavour, which seemed to be star anise, or something along those lines.
Next up there was a fair-sized mound of cabbage/greens, which had absolutely no flavour. No seasoning, no butter – I guess steamed, it still had a bit of crunch in places. How many reviews do you think I need to do before I get knighted by the Queen for services to roast dinners?
You’ll see it in the next photograph, we then had some cauliflower mush which had so much flavour that I could still taste the smokiness the next day. Can you see where I’m going with this review?
In terms of texture, I’m not sure I was too keen on mushy cauliflower, but the smokiness was powerful.
The usual three roast potatoes were supplied – kind of roasted quite well, with crispy sides in places. However, the potatoes tasted stale – like the quality of the potato was really quite bad. It seemed like the chefs had done a good job with their materials – but the buying department not so much.
I didn’t mind the Yorkshire pudding – it was just starting to get a bit of heatlampitis as it started crisping up inside, but the bottom was soft enough.
Two slices of beef were supplied – I’ve certainly had less generous portions. Fairly tender yet had a pleasurably rough texture on some ends. However, I didn’t get the smoked flavour from it – perhaps because the smoked cauliflower much was overpowering everything else. Good, but perhaps not quite on the levels of sexiness that I’d imagine from a place with the reputation of Smokehouse.
Finally, the gravy. It had decent levels of consistency but again was lacking in flavour – almost tasting mostly of cornflour thickening solution. There was perhaps a hint of rosemary. It was quite oddly flavourless.
Smokehouse is clearly a good restaurant, and in a way this was a good roast dinner, but it had a rather disjointed feel to it.
The quality is mostly there – the feel to the place is professional but homely, the service was always very good (bar bringing our roast dinner after just 5 minutes) – there was always someone to request yet more extra gravy from. Apart from the roast potatoes, I’d say the quality was there on the food.
Yet the flavour was lacking in places – namely the cabbage/greens and the weirdly flavourless gravy. And then was over-powering on the super-smoky cauliflower mush.
It wasn’t the easiest to score as we knew it was good – but lacking in some areas. My accomplice scored it a 7.30 out of 10. I’m scoring it a 7.15 out of 10. Respectable, but I kind of expected better from Smokehouse. I feel like they can do a lot better than this.
Smokehouse does fit into this little category of places that do superb meat (the pulled pork looked sensational…damn you Queenie for not wanting me to eat it), yet have somewhat over-rated roast dinners – Guinea Grill, Quality Chop House, Hawksmoor make up the group. I am half-tempted to re-review Hawksmoor as surely they must have just had a bad day? Anyway, I have enough places on my to-do list.
Next weekend I’m going somewhere that is a ballache to get to from where I live, that a friend has been nagging me to go to. Fingers crossed that I don’t drink too much on the Saturday and am not encumbered with episodic mobility issues.
God save the Queens.
(I spent far too long working out which image to close with)
Station: Highbury & Islington
Tube Lines: Overground, Victoria
Fare Zone: Zone 2
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Star anise carrot was powerful, service was very good.
Loathed: Gravy lacked flavour, roasties were stale, meal arrived 5 minutes after I ordered.