What? All-day dining right opposite Cannon Street station. ‘SMITHS’ specialises in steak but there is a tempting selection of British classics including calamari and fish of the day as well as a separate bar snack menu, cocktails, and breakfast served from 7:30am.
New? ‘SMITHS’ of Smithfield was established in the iconic Smithfields meat market back in 2000, but it opened in nearby Cannon Street at the end of last year, and that’s where we headed.
Where? 99 Cannon Street, City of London, EC4N 5AE, www.smithsofsmithfield.co.uk
On the Menu: Meat is definitely the order of the day here, but that doesn’t stop the rest of the menu being seriously tempting. Starters are ideal for sharing – think seared scallops, salt and pepper squid, braised pork cheek and sharing platters made up of focaccia, olives and dips. Unsurprisingly there is a section on the menu dedicated to the grill (everything from burgers to 1kg Tomahawk), all butchered on site. A superfood salad makes the cut but heartier options include roast duck breast, pan-fried fish of the day and braised tongue and cheek – enough choice without it being overwhelming; pretty much the perfect menu for any carnivore.
First Impressions: Located right opposite bustly Cannon Street station, this is undoubtedly one for the city workers. A bar at the front of the ground floor was packed with groups enjoying a Thursday evening drink and if you walk through to the back you’ll find the restaurant, equally buzzy.
The Look: Quite minimal, this isn’t your standard city steak restaurant. Instead, sleek cream chairs sit at polished wooden tables and cream leather booths round the room are lit by huge gold drum-like lampshades. The kitchen runs along the length of the dining room, part concealed by a frosted glass partition but you still get the buzz of the kitchen which makes the atmosphere lively and more informal. The bar area is more casual, with long tables and wooden stools encouraging communal drinking and a red tiled logo on one wall giving the feel of a butchery.
What We Ate: Spoilt for choice, we knew we’d get steak so started a little lighter with salt and pepper squid and seared scallops which came with black pudding, crispy bacon and cauliflower puree. Two great choices, they should be fairly easy to get right but many places often fail. Not here though; the scallops were perfectly tender and the squid not the slightest bit chewy. The cauliflower puree was a great accompaniment and the presentation of the scallop dish in particular was gorgeous. So far so good.
Having both decided on steak, our waiter suggested we go for a sharing cut – both more impressive and more economical (although still pricey), chateaubriand never fails to please. Cooked rare as requested, it was presented on a wooden board, sliced to reveal redness and sprinkled with rock salt. The side salad was a little uninspiring and the chips that came with it a bit too fluffy for my liking, so the meat was definitely the star of the show. A side of breaded asparagus fries came with hollandaise for dipping – very moreish. Luckily our waiter informed us they were breaded because it isn’t mentioned on the menu.
We rounded the evening off with a pudding from the newly designed menu. Recommended by our brilliant waiter, the caramelised banana bavarois would not have been our usual choice but his recommendations so far had been spot on so we took a final punt. With the flavours of banoffee pie and the texture of a mousse, the bavarois came topped with a biscuit crumb and two slices of caramelised banana. Attractive and substantial, it was an apt ending to a consistently great meal.
What We Drank: The night started with a (strong) Hendrick’s gin and tonic – as any Thursday night should. Our food was accompanied by a glass of 2015 Domaine de Gry-Sablon Fleurie, Beaujolais, recommended for us by the waiter for its full-bodied flavour.
Go With: Your colleagues after work to get a few drinks in, then head through to the restaurant for some sustenance, and maybe another bottle of red…
Final Word: Smart enough to visit with clients yet buzzy enough to visit with colleagues or friends, ‘SMITHS’ of Smithfield is clearly a welcome addition to Cannon Street. Offering the area exactly what it needs, if you fancy steak and fancy a few drinks then you can’t go wrong.
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Written by: Fran Hazell