Smokehouse, Islington

The Smokehouse, ox cheek and cauliflower cheese, islington

I love smoked anything, from organic Scottish salmon to that cheese that comes in an orange plastic sausage casing and sticks to your tooth enamel, so I was overjoyed at just the idea of Smokehouse. Plus Neil Rankin’s obviously a genius when it comes to good solid food that satisfies, fills and still tastes amazing.

Turns out it’s just as good as it’s premise implied. The wonderful staff were not even a touch phased by us being very late indeed (long story), knew the menu so well we wanted all of it before we’d even looked, and were consistently professional but laid-back. All of this helped add to the grown-up but energetic atmosphere. We felt young in there, but not afraid to drink a bit too much wine, which is a great balance to hit upon.

The food was great; interesting, flavoursome and comforting. The chopped brisket roll with gochujang (Korean-y mayonnaise, apparently) stood out by a mile. ‘Roll’ is deceptive; it was a massive croquette filled with incredibly delicious smoked beef, and I wish I’d had a second one for my main course. That would have meant missing out on the cauliflower cheese which came with my peppered ox cheek though, which would have been upsetting; it was vey fine indeed. The ox cheek itself, though soft and richly flavoursome, was a touch dry, and could have done with the gravy its menu listing mentioned. But disappointment made way for a wonderful cheese plate (marred only by having too few crackers – such unnecessary torture), and thus the meal climbed back up to a delightful end.

The best part? It’s in a passing-trade no-man’s land, so you’ll probably be able to get a table. But call them first, because it means you’ll get to chat to their lovely staff for longer.

★★★★✰   £££
63–69 Canonbury Road, N1 2DG, 020 7354 1144


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