Smiths of Smithfield – Up To The Rooftop

Up To The Rooftop was a special showcase event at Smiths of Smithfield, which I was invited to attend two weeks ago.

Taking over five floors of a Grade II listed warehouse in Farringdon, across the street from Smithfield Market, SOS is a place to go to for brunches, cocktails, private parties and fine dining. I have eaten at the ground floor cafe a few times, but now I had the chance to eat at the top floor restaurant. I was very excited!

The event was hosted on the hottest week of the year so far, so drinking a glass of chilled wine (2007 Nyetimber English Sparkling) on the rooftop was extremely pleasing. I could glimpse at the sunset from my table during dinner, a beautiful sight!

Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop

After wine and canapés on the balcony, we moved inside for a short butchery demonstration with executive chef, Tony Moyse.

Smiths of Smithfield select the best quality rare breed British beef from farmers all over the country, ensuring they always serve meat of the highest quality. They then age and butcher the beef in-house.

Working on a 35kgs piece of Devon beef, Tony showed us how to butcher the meat and cut it into sirloins, rumps and ribs. He made it look easy and told us it would only takes 24 hours to learn how to butcher beef. Honestly, it didn't look that easy to me! ;)

Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop

After the demo, we sat down at the table for a three-course dinner, where each course was paired with two wines, selected by Master of Wines, David Gleave of Liberty Wines.

Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop

The starter was South Devon Carpaccio & Tartare, with Slow Cooked Yolk, Capers, Shallot, Gherkin, Ponzu Dressing.

It was paired with 2010 "La Rocca" Soave Classico, from Veneto, Italy; and "Plexus" Barossa Valley, South Australia.

Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop

As mains, we had South Devon Rump (From Newton Abbot), Organic Aberdeen Angus Sirloin (from Rhug Estate, North Wales), Simmental Fillet (from Warwickshire), served with spinach, fresh leaf salad, fries and chips, and three house sauces: Bone Marrow Butter, Béarnaise, Peppercorn.

The fillet was my favourite meat: tender and cooked to perfection. Even more delicious with a dollop of bone marrow butter!

The wines chosen to accompany the main course were 2010 Côte-Rôtie from Rhone, France and 2008 Barolo, from Piemonte, Italy.

Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop
Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop

The fantastic meal ended with the "Eton Tidy", a no-mess version of the traditional English pudding, with strawberries, meringue, vanilla cream rice pudding and strawberry tuile.

The two dessert wines were: 2008 "Château Laville" Sauternes, from Bordeaux, France; 2011 "Cordon Cut" Clare Valley Riesling, Australia.

Smiths of Smithfield - Up To The Rooftop

I have had a look at the prices at Smiths of Smithfield top floor restaurant and I appreciate this is not a cheap destination, but I don't think it is overpriced considering the quality of the food they serve.

Smiths of Smithfield could be perfect place to go for a special occasion: the meat is delicious, the location is great and the rooftop view never gets tiring!

Huge thanks to Smiths of Smithfield and Kitch Media for inviting me to the event.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Smiths of Smithfield. All views are my own.

Smiths of Smithfield on Urbanspoon

Seventeen: Szechuan Dinner

One of the perks of being a food blogger is getting invited to nice events, such as tastings, cookery lessons and opening parties. These occasions offer the chance to experience different dishes, discover new cuisines and meet people with whom I share the same passion.

That’s why I loved the Szechuan food event at Seventeen in Notting Hill: at the dinner, which took place in May, I discovered that Chinese food can be incredibly flavoured and spicy and I also met some very nice bloggers!

I extended the invite to my friend Charlotte, only to discover later that she is actually from Szechuan and hence would become the perfect judge of the food’s authenticity! Well, she loved it and also took some amazing pictures of the dishes (waaaay better than my poor attempts at defeating the dim-lit setting), so go have a look at her blog post.

The lovely restaurant manager, Mark, welcomed us downstairs where there is a big room with a bar, a privé area (where we sat) and many small tables. There are many waiters and you never feel un-attended (in a good not-pushy way).

After spending some time introducing each other, chatting, drinking wine, the food started to come our way: Cumin Lamb Skewers and Beef Shank in Spicy Sauce. I liked the lamb, but they got easily over-shadowed by the beef, which was fantastic! In fact, it was probably the best dish of the night: tender meat, melting in the mouth and bursting of flavours.

However, the star of the show was the Sezchuan-style fish: beautiful ceramic bowls of boiled fish, swimming in a broth of peppercorns and red chillies. It was not the kind of spice that hits you at the first bite, but after a few minutes (and for hours afterwards) it will make your mouth burn! I loved the idea of fishing the pieces out of the bowl using the special metal colander (trying to leave out the chillies!).

There was more food to come – believe me! Chongqing Chicken, a cold dish of steamed meat in chilli and sesame sauce; Twice-cooked (boiled and stir-fried) Pork Belly; Green Beans with Pork; Choi Sum Garlic.

By then, I had eaten so much chilli that I couldn’t taste any more flavours! That didn’t stop me from eating, though, as I kept picking at the last pieces of beef shank left from the starters! ;)

The Szechuan “chilli party” finished with Mango Jelly and Mochi Balls with black sesame and peanuts, followed by a soothing Jasmine Tea.

I had a great dinner and enjoyed the atmosphere, service and food. I really appreciated Mark’s efforts in spreading the word about this restaurant, which offers good authentic Szechuan dishes, yet is located out of the “foodie trail” and can be easily overlooked. If you are a fan of spicy food (and are not a vegetarian!), you should pay Seventeen a visit!

For more reviews, visit Feast To The World, Yummy Choo Eats and Dolce Dini.

Disclosure: the dinner was kindly offered by the restaurant. All views are my own.

Pitt Cue Co.

After months of postponing, the day finally arrived for me to try the most famous American-style BBQ joint in London, Pitt Cue Co.

Opened in January by chef Tom Adams and his friend Jamie Berger, Pitt Cue has already reached cult status, for its fantastic meat as much as for its long queues. With only 30 covers and a no-reservation policy, it’s no surprise that it takes 1-2 hours on average to sit in the tiny Soho restaurant.

There are ways to beat the crowd: for dinner, arrive before their opening time at 6pm or alternatively get there after 9pm! Anything in between, and you will be spending a long time standing outside the door or inside at the bar.

I planned a foodie meet-up with three bloggers: Selina of Yummy Choo Eats, Katy of Feel Good Food Book and Laura of The Writing Type. In the queue on Newburgh Street, we also randomly met James and Louis of The Pizza Pilgrims, who entertained us during the 2-hour wait for a table!

The pilgrims introduced us to the Pickle Back, a two shot drink of bourbon and pickle brine. Sounds disgusting? Surprisingly it isn’t…thought it didn’t leave me longing for a second round either! :)

After the shots, I moved on to the beer: deciding against the “Whatever” draught beer, I ordered a Kernel pale ale.

Around 8pm we got seats by the window. Chatting and sharing food is not easy when you are sitting in a line facing a window, but then a table downstairs meant an even longer wait so we decided against it. Besides, it was the first warm and dry evening of the summer and I wouldn’t have liked sitting in the dark basement.

We ordered different meats to share: Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Pork Ribs – all served with house pickles and grilled sourdough bread. On the side, we ordered Burnt End Mash, Baked Beans, Chipotle Slaw and Deep-fried Shiitake Mushrooms.

Cooked for 12 hours, the melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork was unanimously voted the best dish, but everything else was also incredibly tender, juicy and perfectly grilled.

You will struggle to find a food critic or blogger that has not yet spoken about Pitt Cue Co. My favourite write-up is by Grade Dent, who managed to write an enthusiastic review while at the same time comparing Pitt Cue to a Venezuelan prison!

Her colourful descriptions and the promise of leaving the restaurant covered in BBQ sauce made me want to go there even more!

The average Pitt Cue diner when I visited was mid-twenties, male and part of a group deliciously lost in a carnivorous ‘Um, meat, drippy sauce, ribbbbbs, taste GUD!’-type man trance [...] I ate my sausage in a sweet brioche bun with a side of bone-marrow mash and Cajun slaw, washed down with a woozy-making ‘hard lemonade’, while sitting crammed into an alcove with my head inches from a brick wall and one elbow in the pulled pork of a male stranger. [Grace Dent for ES Magazine]

For a top review of the meat, then head over to Burger Anarchy: these guys know all about BBQ meat, having recently been to one of the world’s best, Franklin’s in Texas (you can see a blurred Franklin’s T-shirt in the “Whatever” photo above!).

Despite the sense of Americana that the array of bourbon, PBR, and boilermakers might imbue, Pitt Cue isn’t really American. [...] If anything, it’s the Downton Abbey of BBQ – all the same ridiculous drama of Dallas, but anglicised and refined. Smoke and meat are the stars here, not sugar and gloopy sauces. [Simon & Rob for Burger Anarchy]

At the end, I still had some space to try the yummy Snickers Mess: a gooey feast of vanilla ice cream, meringue, chocolate, salted caramel, peanuts and a big putty-like brownie base [Adam Layton for Noshable].
Pitt Cue Co. was already a sensation last summer when selling ribs from a trailer pitched on the Southbank and is coming back on the wheels from June 8th, so don’t miss it!

The Fabulous Feast and Sunday Roast at Ben’s Canteen

One of my favourite local discoveries since I moved to south London is the residential area of St John’s Hill. Located between Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Town, the street is quiet and full of lovely eateries.

St John’s Hill is the perfect destination for foodies. I particularly love the fish & chips at The Fish Club, the coffee at Birdhouse and, of course, the food at Ben’s Canteen, which I blogger about here.

Starting tomorrow, The Fabulous Feast! is a week-long celebration of St John’s Hill, a chance for the local community to get together and also to spread the word about the fantastic food & drinks that the street has to offer.

For the entire week, the restaurants, bars, pubs and cafés will offer set menus to diners for just £15. There will also be cooking demos at the Fish Club and Powder Keg Diplomacy, live DJ’s and bands at The Plough, a mini farmers’ market and a pop-up dinner by Ben Spalding at Ben’s Canteen.

Two weeks ago I took my parents to Ben’s Canteen for a Sunday Roast. We were blessed with exactly two hours of sunshine, amongst weeks of rain, just enough to enjoy a stroll up and down the hill!

We started with the famous All Day Breakfast Scotch Eggs.

Followed by Roast Rump of Orkney Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and roasted vegetables and a glass of good wine.

Finished with Rolo Tart with Ice-Cream and Rhubarb Eton Mess.

And a slice of Dessert Deli Carrot Cake for my dad!

Spot on as usual, Ben’s Canteen never fails to impress!

Don’t miss The Fabulous Feast, now it’s the perfect occasion to visit St John’s Hill.