To celebrate my birthday the girls and I had brunch at Smiths of Smithfield. When checking out the menu online I learnt that the restaurant is casually referred to as SOS which immediately took me back to a dingy nightclub in Tonbridge, Kent with the same name, which we regularly frequented as teens. Reminded of these fond, if somewhat hazy, memories we were sold.
I tend to think of owner John Torode (aka Toad) as a bit of a twat but I was hoping that the restaurant which bares his name would deliver food good enough to warrant his position as judge on Masterchef and his general aura of superiority.
We snagged a table for 4 with ease at around 1 on Saturday in the lower level, the first floor being unavailable due to a private function. Fine. At the top of the menu loud and proud is Torode's book Beef: and Other Bovine Matters which handily can be purchased here, signed copies also available on request (cringe).
It was such a sweltering day we asked for iced tap water, this was gladly provided. Service was very efficient, the waitress left us plenty of time to chat before asking if we were ready to order. I went for the macaroni cheese with smoked haddock and a side salad.
I tend to have to avoid macaroni cheese because it's my ultimate favourite comfort food. A few years back I had a phase of cooking it approximately every other day, this got ridiculous and I had to go cold turkey for a while. I always make is in its pure form, no additions, but here the haddock gave it a brilliant smoky flavour with a smattering of small chunks mixed through the pasta. The macaroni itself was smaller than the average, squat tubes about 1cm long. There was a generous amount of melted mozzarella with a grilled tomato for decoration. I was pretty hungover and this stodge was just what I needed to settle my stomach. The side salad of tomato, mixed leaves and red onion was very nicely dressed and in all I was very happy with what I ordered.
The Kid went for a breakfast of toast, fried egg, bacon, sausage, mushrooms and beans. The breakfast is served all day in the downstairs dining room which has a distinct laddy feel, there were lots of groups of guys and the decor of exposed brick and wood lends itself well to chaps looking to lunch or brunch whilst retaining their masculinity! There was a table of 8 guys next to us, all ordered the SOS burger and chips. As did Nibs and Noy.
These were good, served with cheese and tomato relish, supposedly served medium but actually cooked through with no pink meat. The chips were nicely cooked, crunchy and thick and each table has a good selection of condiments and sauces, the appearance of French's mustard swaying Noy's decision to order the burger.
We were all very pleased with what we chose, the service is exemplary and unobtrusive. Most of the menu is simple and comforting, the majority of diners were ordering sandwiches of some variety. It's very good value for money too, my post meal bellini costing more than my entire meal. I would definitely return here and am eager to try out the more formal dining area upstairs. Well done Toad, it seems you do know what you're talking about after all.
Smith of Smithfield
67 Charterhouse St