Smokehouse, Islington – A birthday celebration

For my impending 35th Birthday hubby treated me to a meal at Smokehouse in Islington. I love meat and smoked meat is even better!

We had a reservation for 6pm on a Saturday, just a short walk from Highbury & Islington station and we were promptly seated in an empty restaurant, evening sittings start from 6pm.

Our waitress was very friendly, talked us through the specials and made recommendations which we followed. The menu had a Korean infusion twist, and we chose the following…

Starters

Chopped Brisket Roll + Gochujang

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Chopped Brisket Roll + Gochujang

This was amazing. I got very giddy when it was placed in front of me as it looked like my second favourite food – croquette potatoes! Sorry, I know, but I can’t help it – I love them!

This was not a croquette potato, it was just a deep fried brisket roll, but it was delicious. Before I ordered I checked what gochujang was, and it is a spice Korean mayonnaise. It complimented the roll well, and was very tasty. I was reluctant to share this dish with hubby, but I knew I just had to try what he had.

Thai Chicken Livers, Toast & Duck Hearts

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Thai Chicken Livers, Toast & Duck Hearts

I only had a little taste of this, but it did include a duck heart. This was the first time I have ever tried one, it was a little chewy! The chicken liver pate was tasty but looked like it the dish would have benefitted from having more on the toast.

Main Courses

Hubby & I chose these together to we could share half & half.

Smoked Duck, Kimchi & Potato Cake

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Smoked Duck, Kimchi & Potato Cake

This was delicious, the duck looks like it is mainly cooked through the smoking process. (I was initially worried it was raw!). I had tried Kimchi when I was in China once, and this version was far superior giving the dish a nice little kick. The egg was a nice touch on the top. I was reluctant to share the other half of this.

“The Sphere” Smoked Hame Hock, Pigs Cheek & Cuttlefish Romesco

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“The Sphere” Smoked Ham Hock, Pigs Cheek & Cuttlefish Romesco

The Sphere looked like a giant arancini, it came on a bed of pasta, and was extremely tasty. By the time I moved onto my half I was getting stuffed. This dish was quite rich, and the smoked pig cheek lardons were to die for.

Side Dish

This dish was recommended by our waitress and we heard a few of the other servers recommending to tables around us. I’d never had goat before, so was game to try it.

Goat Bolognese

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Goat Bolognese

The goat was slow cooked and was so soft and stringy it melted in the mouth. It tasted quite similar to lamb (in my opinion), and I really liked this dish. Again it was quite rich, and this would have been nice as a meal on it’s own. Perhaps with the Lamb Stovies, another side that I lusted after, but was glad we didn’t succumb as I was almost beat by the end of the main course…

However, I just had to try a desert!

Double D Tart

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Double D Tart

Similar to a Double Decker (but for legal reasons abbreviated to Double D) this had a rice crispie base, nougat middle, peanut butter(?) and a chocolate top. Accompanied by pistachio ice cream. I was a little disappointed with this as it didn’t really taste of anything, and was troublesome to get through the crispy base without catapulting a piece across the table.

Drinks

Hubby loves a good craft beer, so he sampled at least 3 different beers all served in 2/3 pints, including the Redhook Longhammer & Rogue Dead Guy Ale. He finished his evening with an aperitif of Express Coffee Liqueur, which he discovered was basically Tia Maria – oh how I laughed!

I had a couple of glasses of the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2008, which was lovely, and an Aperol Spritz.

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The meal for two came to around £120 including a 12.5% service charge. The staff were very friendly, knowledgable and helpful that I had no qualm with the level of the service charge. The restaurant is small and intimate and a nice atmosphere. It has a bar area, and with over 20 craft beers definitely worth a revisit  for hubby to try a few more. Plenty of other dishes on the menu to try on a future visit too. Can’t wait!

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STK London – Anniversary Meal

For our 2nd anniversary we decided to try STK at the ME hotel on The Strand.

The hotel and restaurant are part of The One Group who are also the owners of The Cosmopolitan, where we stayed for our honeymoon in Vegas, so it was an apt choice to go for our meal.

We reserved around 2 weeks in advance and could only get an early sitting of 6pm, with a 2 hour time limit for the table.

The hotel is quite understated from the outside, so not easy to spot, but sits on the island between Aldwych and The Strand, so not too difficult really.

The restaurant is very stylish, with a dark and glitzy look. A nice selection of booths and tables, with ample space, so you don’t feel like your all squished in together.

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Our waiter was very attentive and took great pride in telling us how lively the place got later, with dancing on the tables when the DJ cranked up the volume. Seeing as we had to leave by 8pm this was a cunning ploy to pique our interest and maybe try for a later sitting next time.

We ordered a Cocktail for me, Oh L’Amour, and Beer for Hubby.

For food we chose the Chateaubriand to share, Lobster Mac & Cheese and Parmesan Truffle Chips. The main also came with Foie Gras and Spinach. The meat was cooked perfectly and there was plenty of it, so much we took home a doggy bag! The mac & cheese was delicious, and chips super tasty!

With my steak I had a glass of white wine and hubby a glass of Malbec.

Hubby had spotted a Cheese & Champagne restaurant earlier in Coventry Garden, so he already had dessert sorted, so I opted for the Cold Chocolate Fondant. It was amazing! The base had popping candy in it, and the orange sauce was lovely.

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At every course the waiter had some interesting fact to share about what we were eating or drinking, and was a great host for the evening, always ensuring we had enough water etc.

The atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable. Food was perfect, and not too unreasonable for central London.

We have seen how lively The Cosmopolitan got as the evening drew on, so can only imagine what STK London could be like after dark.

Only negatives would be the distance to the toilets – around 4 flights downstairs. And the fact that the service charge doesn’t go just to your waiter/waitress, but to the restaurant. This isn’t a big surprise, it was more the fact that they point this out on the bill, which almost guilts you into adding extra to the 12.5% already on your bill.

We would definitely go back to try some of the other items on the menu, especially their great choice of cocktails.