Tag Archives: N1

A shot of the pass, open to the formal dining room

Restaurant Review – Smokehouse, Canonbury Road, N1

Before we moved, Andrew and I promised ourselves we’d go out for a really lovely celebration meal together once we completed on the sale. However, as ever with us, we were optimistic about how much free time we’d have after completing.

Since we became homeowners our lives have been a heady whirlwind of filling walls, buying sanders (I am now the co-owner of multiple sanders! Try not to feel too jealous, guyssss), painting and shouting, “Have you seen my red jumper anywhere?” across the house as we live in a semi-unpacked dystopian nightmare. So we haven’t had time to go for dinner, and we hadn’t unpacked any nice clothes to go out for dinner in. I’m pretty sure any maître d’ would turn his nose up at my paint-covered hoodie. I mean, I turn my nose up at it and I’m a slob.

But the clouds lifted on Saturday. We finished our decorating, I found my nice shoes (one pair, natch) – it was time for our celebration meal. We wanted to go somewhere local, that wasn’t stuffy but served good quality and interesting food. There’s quite a lot of that on offer in Islington, but eventually we plumped for the Smokehouse.

Our 'excited to be out and not painting' faces. Andrew's playing it cool, as ever.
Our ‘excited to be out and not painting’ faces. Andrew’s playing it cool, as ever.

Smokehouse is owned by the guys behind The Pig & Butcher and has Neil Rankin, of John Salt and Pitt Cue fame, as the chef. Smokehouse specialises in all things smokey and firey and has a smoker on site. As well as this, the emphasis is on the quality and provenance of their ingredients. As well as the best possible produce, Smokehouse also has a startling array of ales and beers and a stellar wine list, for it is a cosy pub as well and not at all ‘just a restaurant’.

A shot of the pass, open to the formal dining room
A shot of the pass, open to the formal dining room

We got a great table in the restaurant (needed to book ahead), and had an amazing waitress who was just the right level of attentive. She was battling on even though she’d sliced open her hand on a bread knife too. That’s the commitment I like! She was also really knowledgable about the menu and seemed to be passionate about the food she was delivering to us. Full marks to her!

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I opted for a starter of foie gras, apple pie and duck egg. It was so delicious I stopped on my first mouthful and sighed! The foie gras was lovely and rich, with the duck egg perfectly cooked (so much so I asked Andrew in a frustrated tone, “but how do they get it this perfect?” – side note, I am rubbish at cooking eggs). The apple pie was perfect for cutting through the richness and adding a lovely tang to the plate.

Foie gras (two generous pieces!), apple cake and duck egg starter
Foie gras (two generous pieces!), apple cake and duck egg starter

Andrew went for a chopped brisket roll & gochujang. Gochujang is a Korean condiment that’s essentially like a chilli mayo. The chopped brisket was perfect: smokey and headily meaty, while the gochujang added a beautiful chilli kick.

The chopped brisket
The chopped brisket

We followed these up with a shortrib bourguignon (me) and peppered ox cheek (him). We also got a side of roast potatoes, but the stew came with mash anyway.

Short rib bourguignon with creamy mash
Short rib bourguignon with creamy mash

The bourguignon had a real depth of flavour and a melt in mouth texture. It had some chillies on the plate, which added a lovely firey hum in the undertones. It was incredibly rich and decadent, and absolutely superb.

The ox cheek came with cauliflower cheese, which was just insane. The cauliflower, which is an easy vegetable to overcook and ruin, was so sweet and nutty, and the cheese sauce covered the cauliflower but didn’t overpower it.

Peppered ox cheek with cauliflower cheese and gravy
Peppered ox cheek with cauliflower cheese and gravy

Feeling rather full of rich meaty food, we weren’t to be beaten by pudding. I went for a Double D pie, which is inspired by a Double Decker chocolate bar. A layer of coco pops, a layer of nougat, a layer of peanut butter, a layer of the richest chocolate known to man. Kapow! It was amazingly nutty and chocolatey. The pistachio ice cream it came with wasn’t quite powerful enough to beat those flavours. Bums, as I love pistachio ice cream – it’s a firm family favourite in my crew.

The Double D
The Double D

Andrew asked for an affagato, which wasn’t actually on the menu, but they knocked it up for him.

And breathe!
And breathe!

Smokehouse was everything I hoped it’d be: cosy, without pretension and serving excellent, exciting food. It’s the ideal place to snuggle down in, eat until you’re full to bursting and then relax in front of the open fire. A new favourite for me!

Sorry this photography is a bit Martha Stewart!

Service: 5

Venue: 5

Value: 5

Overall: 10/10

The Smokehouse, 63-69 Canonbury Road, N1 2DG

Nearest Tube: Highbury & Islington (10 min walk). The 271 goes right past it though!

Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

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Brunch Review – Caravan, Granary Square, N1C

Baked eggs, tomato pepper ragout, Greek yoghurt, chorizo and sourdough toast.

This Sunday I had a hot date with one of my closest friends, Ames, and Andrew. Without any deliberation we selected Caravan for the venue of said hot date.

Caravan is located just north of Kings Cross station, underneath Central St Martin’s. It faces out onto Granary Square, which had loads of weird events going on – something about the industrial revolution. This seemed to involve dressing pre-pubescent children up as chimney sweeps and someone screeching along to “Who Will Buy” from Oliver. It was a no from me.

We arrived at 1pm at Caravan and was told there was a 45 min wait. No worries, I thought, it means I get to spend more time catching up with Amy. However, an hour came and went… We were sat after 90 mins, but I am not really sure it’s worth a 90 min wait. You can go away and they’ll text you when your table is ready, but we were stuck in some pseudo-Victorian nightmare and just wanted to eat.

So anyway, yeah, cut to the chase – we got a table…

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Sounds sickly, was actually amazing.
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Sounds sickly, was actually amazing.

 

I ordered a salted caramel hot chocolate, which sounds incredibly sickly. I don’t really like sickly things, so I have no idea what came over me – I think I was discombobulated from the Industrial Revolution outside. In fact, it was absolutely delicious. It tasted like a creme brûlée in a drink. I pretty much drank it like a shot.

Obligatory brunch photo of a flat white
Obligatory brunch photo of a flat white

Food-wise, I ordered baked eggs, tomato pepper ragout, Greek yoghurt, chorizo sausage with sourdough toast.

Baked eggs, tomato pepper ragout, Greek yoghurt, chorizo and sourdough toast.
Baked eggs, tomato pepper ragout, Greek yoghurt, chorizo and sourdough toast.

 

It looked kind of on the small side when it arrived, but was actually incredibly rich. I’m glad I got the chorizo though, mostly because it’s my fave. The egg yolks were cooked all the way through though, which was a massive shame. The ragout was nice and punchy, and the bread soaked it all up nicely.

For some unknown reason (again, I blame the child slave labour homage outside), I ordered toast too. It came with tiny pots of homemade jam. The jam wasn’t actually that good – pretty flavourless – but the jars were cute. I shared the toast with Amy, as I felt totally sick by this point.

Look at those jam jars!
Look at those (blurry) jam jars!

Amy and Andrew ordered jalapeno corn bread, fried eggs, black beans and guindilla pepper. I had a bite of Andrew’s, as I badly love corn bread. Again, the yolks were cooked through, which seems like a pretty easy thing they were getting wrong. There also wasn’t much of the dish, and not enough sauce, so it was kind of dry.

Jalapeno corn bread, fried eggs, black beans, guindilla pepper
Jalapeno corn bread, fried eggs, black beans, guindilla pepper

Andrew also ordered some kind of amazing museli thing, which was honey roasted. It was incredibly rich, but very yum. Not very healthy I don’t think though.

The museli thing
The museli thing

The service was good at Caravan though, after we got past the hostesses (who seemed to have mastered the art of flouncing past mass hoards of people vying for their attention). The atmosphere was really buzzy and it was great people watching. I would go again, but perhaps if I had the day off and could go when it’s less busy. Having said that, there are lots of amazing brunch places in London that means cafes and restaurants really need to work hard to gain my loyalty and I’m not sure Caravan was really on its game on Sunday.

Oh, the bill came to just under £50 for three, with three hot drinks.

Service: 2

Venue: 4

Value: 3

Overall: 3/10

Caravan, 1 Granary Square (off Goods Way), London, N1C 4AA

Nearest tube: Kings Cross/St Pancras (5 min walk)

Square Meal

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