63-69 Canonbury Road, Islington, London
Yet another hidden gem in Islington, The Smokehouse opened its doors in 2013. Run by chef Neil Rankin, formerly of the Pitt Cue Co, the restaurant offers a range of meat dishes inspired by global cuisines, predominantly Korean and Argentinian.
The starters – chopped brisket roll with gochujang (a spicy Korean sauce) and goat tacos – were salty, appetising and full of flavour. I chose the smoked lamb shoulder with polenta, raclette and sambal as my main course, plus a side of kale with sesame and chilli. The lamb was tender, smokey, and smooth. For me, cheese and lamb is not an obvious match, but this works well.
The puddings are all unashamedly good, old fashioned comfort dishes. I opted for the banana bread French toast with caramelised bananas, pecans and dulce de leche. Pair bananas with pecans and caramel, and I’m sold. It’s not a ground-breaking dessert, but every element was delicious, expertly done and an ideal end to the meal.
The meat is, as you’d expect, cooked fantastically. The added refinements make this place special: the spicy yet smooth gochujang, the morish kale, the delicate polenta and sambal mix.
The portion sizes were not overwhelming and the dishes aren’t greasy, as can often be the problem with a menu so heavily biased towards barbecued meat. We comfortably worked our way through the three courses, and you will want to, believe me! A vegetarian option is offered as an alternative in each course, but let’s not kid ourselves – this is a carnivore’s paradise.