Smithfield in London has long been famous for being the home of one of London’s largest and oldest meat markets, where meat has been bought and sold for over 800 years. Nowadays Smithfield is much more than a market and has become a hub for bars, restaurants and nightlife. It’s not an area I visit often – since my days of clubbing at Fabric are behind me – but I was excited to head to this historical area of town to check out a menu of British food at Bird of Smithfield.
My dining companion for the day was my sister Jen, who started off our lunch with a cocktail. Called The Lucky One, the cocktail contained Tincup Whisky, Flaming Pig liquer, Negra Modelo ale syrup, ginger bitters, lemon, angstura and eggs whites. It was a little strong for my taste but I loved the presentation in a mini pint glass topped with hops.
On a Wednesday lunchtime Bird of Smithfield was packed with people, mostly city workers, enjoying lunch before heading back to the office. I got this pic after most people left but I thought the tweed fabrics were a great complement to the British dishes on the menu and I liked the otherwise classic look of the dining room. Artwork hung on the walls and a mirrored ceiling created an illusion of space in the cosy dining room. It’s more than just the dining room though, Bird of Smithfield is based around five floors including a ground floor bar and lounge, a private dining room upstairs and a roof terrace at the top.
A very decent loaf was delivered to our table with a crisp crust and fluffy on the inside plus I love it when bread is put on the table whole as it stays fresher for longer. There’s only a seventeen month age gap between me and my sister but we have very different tastes in everything – including food with Jen usually going for more meaty options, whereas I usually choose fish.
Our mum did teach us that sharing is caring though and Jen let me have a try of her steak tartare.
The dish was absolutely beautifully presented but it definitely wasn’t all style and no substance, the meat was perfectly prepared and seasoned with spots of confit egg and little rings of crispy shallot. There was a little sweet chutney on top which gave the tartare even more depth of flavour and the mixture was delicious spread on the little pieces of toast provided.
I didn’t get too much food envy though as I loved my char-grilled West Coast squid which, like the tartare, was like a work of art on the plate. I love it when food is just so vibrant with colour, and tasty too. I don’t think I’ve had squid with pickled carrots and beetroot before but the combination was spot on and the flavours enhanced further by a green sauce.
Jen’s generous portion of roast fillet of Highland red deer came with mashed neeps, spring greens and wild garlic all smothered in a deep and rich port wine sauce. I wish I’d got a photo of the inside to show you how beautifully rare and perfectly cooked that meat was. With some of the meat sourced in The Highlands and plenty of whisky cocktails, we questioned whether the chef was Scottish but actually chef Alan Bird hails from Hertfordshire and has a very esteemed background having worked at two-Michelin star Simply Nicos and as the personal chef to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Most recently Alan Bird was head chef at The Ivy, another favourite of mine, but Bird of Smithfield is his first solo venture.
My delicious lemon sole on the bone came with seaweed and shellfish butter, which the kitchen kindly served on the side as I don’t like too much butter on my fish. And actually it didn’t need much as the flesh was succulent and flavoursome. I much prefer fish on the bone as I think it retains its flavour plus I like the challenge of navigating and avoiding all the pin bones.
Side dishes were great additions to the main meal I enjoyed broccoli with chilli, capers and crispy garlic where Jen chose a salad with Berkswell cheese.
Our dessert smelt very sweet but as we dived our spoons into the steamed chocolate pudding we were surprised that it wasn’t at all sickly but just right. The waiter explained to us that the chocolate was from Cru Virunga in The Congo and some of the best chocolate you’ll find anywhere. It actually has a very high cocoa content, meaning it’s not necessary to add too much sugar and it’s not overly sweet. The topping of Seville orange marmalade gave it a hint of citrus and we loved the pool of fresh vanilla custard which didn’t overpower the smooth chocolate sauce.
With the incredible food and friendly service at Bird of Smithfield, I can see why Alan Bird continues to fly high. It’s certainly something to tweet about.
PIN FOR LATER:
Bird of Smithfield
26 Smithfield Street
020 3544 0681
Our meal was complimentary.