Smokestak – BBQ comes to The Big Smoke
23rd August 2017
Have you been to Smokestak yet? If not, you need to. For those of you not based in London, I apologise because this super cool new East End eatery will make you want to book your ticket to the Big Smoke as soon as you finish reading.
I was first introduced to Smokestak last year at Dinerama, a big street food market in East London. Intrigued by their interesting industrial setup, big hunks of meat and even bigger queue I quickly decided this was a must-try. I didn’t think of myself as much of a meat eater but it only took one bite of that prime beef rib to unleash my inner carnivore. I was instantly hooked and when I learned that they had graduated from street food stalls and had opened their first restaurant in Shoreditch I couldn’t wait to go and try the extended menu of BBQ treats.
As seems to be the path for these restaurants that originate in the street food scene (think Pizza Pilgrims and one of my favourite new Clerkenwell spots Breddos Tacos) founder, David Carter, started this adventure with a pilgrimage to the home of the BBQ. He came back from America armed with some invaluable knowledge, a 7 metre long smoker made by the best in the biz and the ambition to change the BBQ game in the UK. And that he did, Smokestak quickly gained a reputation for taking street meat to a whole ‘nother level.
Walking in through the big metal doors of Smokestak’s new home, you’re greeted by a busy open kitchen emitting mouth-watering smells and a flood of small plates. Chefs navigate around one another like a well organised crew with Carter at the helm. The restaurant was packed with a mixture of suits, the cool creative Shoreditch crowd and even the odd celeb. I was excited and I hadn’t even read the menu yet.
Designed to feel like the inside of a smoker, Architect studios Box-9 and Red Deer worked together to create this unique space embracing reclaimed materials and a dark and moody colour palette. The concrete walls are stained with carbon, steel panels wrap around the bar, open piping and metal details mix with battered wooden furniture, tables and chairs constructed from old bits of salvaged wood and a ramshackle wall unit, distressed and wonky with missing draws. It all feels very cool and East London. The mixture of dark wood and metal actually reminded me a little of our new Petersham Kitchen. Although that kitchen is quite traditional, a little more luxe and refined, it still has that dark, atmospheric, industrial feel.
I’m not going to lie, I was expecting a lot. Zoe and Helen had already been and were singing its praises and the memory of that incredible beef rib had stayed with me for well over a year. Luckily, and as you’ve probably guessed by now, I was not disappointed. The meat was of course tender, packed with that unique smokey flavour and just down right delicious, but the thing that surprised me was how great the vegetarian dishes were. Highlights included a baked potato pimped up with an intense smoked rarebit and the coal roasted aubergine with red miso and toasted cashews. The flavours, each distinctive and amazing in their own right, blended together to create something that was quite different to anything I’d ever tasted before.
An array of adventurous appetisers are available from a mere £2.50 (we’re talking pigtails and ox cheeks) whilst bigger plates range from £4 to £15. The dishes are all for sharing so I’d recommend going in a group – that way you get to try more! I’d love to go and order one of everything, it’s one of those places… you just know it’s all going to be amazing!
– Take a look at the Smokestak menu or book a table here.
Images sourced from www.reddeer.co.uk