31st January 2017
About £45/head including two rounds of drinks
Goodbye and good riddance January. You invoked my goody-two-shoes alter-ego, and I'm glad to see the back of her. I was Miss Early to Bed Early to Rise all month. I got over-confident at Ten Pilates, even trying a TRX class that nearly crippled me. Dark forces entered my body, inducing egregious famine and unnatural aches and pains. The most important person in my life became the Thai lady who walked on my bum and back on Wednesdays till I cried mercy.
The worst part of all of this was that I was too tired to go out. Too insistent on healthiness to eat out.
Until Smokestak. I read Grace Dent's hymn to their hunk-a-dunk of a smoker and booked two bar stools for dinner with vagabond cousin RV.
We rendevouzed in their dinky little bar downstairs, where there was little standing room and plenty of through-traffic. Luckily, it is staffed by the kind of perfectionist that makes for a decorated hero of a bartender; a bourbon-whisperer that turns the ordinary Old Fashioned into a peach-infused nectar for the Gods. Mine was gone in sixty seconds.
Our spots were ready upstairs, but we rejected the cramped counter they offered us and waited for space at the roomier communal table. Once installed, we set upon our philosophy playlist for the night - for starters, a classic: the impossibility of being an island separate from others. We moved onto the personality and moods of the confirmed bachelor, one suited to stepping outside of monogamy, and finished up on a high with the singular joy of becoming an aunt or uncle. Yes, us barbeque-obsessed carnivores go doe-eyed at the sight of a new born too. Anyway, there's nothing like an Old Fashioned to help you remember your social skills after a self-enforced purgatory month at home.
Hot smoked salmon arrived room-temperature on impeccable, buttered rye. Chunky and pate-like, with capers to accent the char and fish flavours, this was not as advertised but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
RV adored the beef brisket buns and his beef ribs (which were small).
My pork ribs were a work of art - two bones and a broad expanse of textured, delicious meat and pork belly-esque fat after each. Perfectly square, it's corners were deliciously blackened, making for irresistible nibbling. Completely faultless. Pickled cucumber was a little treat on the side.
Sticky toffee pudding was a moist hunk of cake, swimming (as it should) in sauce, for once heavy on toffee flavour without being sickeningly sweet. Some slight smoking added complexity without making you think too hard.
Smokestak is an easy yes, and a great place to chew the fat with some solid conversationalists. I'm moving on to Temper this weekend. Stay tuned for more meat-focussed gorging.