Smiths of Smithfields Cocktail Bar:
Smithfields is one of London’s most historic markets. When I first moved to London, the area was desolate but for the meat carcasses that arrived nightly to be sold to retail and restaurant customers during the early hours of the morning. I did a little voluntary work in the area, manning a telephone support line till late at night, and used to leave the office just as the lorries started to roll up with their macabre content. There was nowhere to eat other than working pubs and cafes for the tradesmen. Certainly nowhere you’d regard as a destination restaurant, even though the architecture is wonderful – vast Victorian warehousing and historic buildings. Then Smiths of Smithfields opened to great excitement. It was a multi-level place, you could pop into the ground floor for breakfast or have a posh dinner on the top floor (although I never did).
I don’t think I ever went there just to drink – the food had, and still HAS a great reputation and other than my voluntary work, which was before Smiths opened, I haven’t worked over in that part of London. But, I was delighted to be invited to the launch of the newly refurbished cocktail bar. Design follows the distressed warehouse styling of the rest of Smiths but with comfy leather chairs and bar stools clustered around low tables giving the place a comfortable lived-in feeling. The bar dominates the area with a high marble counter and a collection of cocktail ephemera. Behind the marble a really extensive collection of spirits waiting to be mixed up into some excellent cocktails that manage to combine innovation with classic blends.
At the launch event, we enjoyed a selection of excellent cocktails. My personal favourite was Gaby, a champagne cocktail with Rye Vodka, Lillet Rose Aperitif, HomemadePomegranate Reduction and Devaux Champagne . And I loved the presentation of ’Sound of the Island’ enjoyed by my friend - Caol Ila 1999 The Whisky Trail, Crème de Banana, Home Made Tonka Beans, Cinnamon & Clove Bitters served from a hip flask, although as I am not really a whisky drinker, it wasn’t something I’d order myself.
We tasted MOST of the light bites on offer too which were hard to resist. This kind of place could be very dangerous. Char Sui belly Pork Buns were full of meltingly tender well flavoured pork
And these scallops, wrapped in Woodall’s Cured Ham with a neat dollop of Béarnaise were a good example of the level of attention to detail here. It is quite common for bar snacks, light bites or whatever you want to call them to be a poor reflection of the food the restaurant serves. Not at Smiths. I’d have been happy to eat any of the ‘light bites’ as a starter, or to order a collection of them to graze on, rather than ordering a full meal.
I am sure the cocktail bar will be a great success. For those visiting Smiths who want something just a little more relaxed than the very buzzy ground floor cafe, but who don’t want to eat a full meal on the second or third floor. Or for those just wanting a rather exceptional cocktail and some great snacks
Smiths of Smithfields Cocktail Bar