Barbecue food isn’t what it used to be. It’s not banging a burger on the disposable barbecue, or flipping sausages until almost burnt just to make sure they’re cooked, before serving in a roll oozing with ketchup or yellow mustard. Nope. Go out and see barbecue food on a menu, and expect slow cooked meats, tender rich brisket, juicy beef short rib and flavoursome burnt ends.
Ok, so it’s another of the American influences which has made its way over here, South-West American to be exact, and this style of cooking is AWESOME.
St. Bart’s Brewery, in Smithfield, is one of the restaurants on the London food scene which has jumped on the trend, but added their own little touch – all of the meat is cooked over Apple wood from Hush Heath Estate, the company’s winery in Kent! Pretty cool!
The menu itself is pretty simple but offers quite a variety of sustainably sourced, high quality options – perhaps not one for vegetarians though, being all about slow cooked meats!
Small plates, all priced at £5, make tasty starters, or could be ordered as tapas dishes or bar snacks. The Chicken Wings, served with honey BBQ or Boss Level Heat glaze, were sticky, saucy and delicious. The Devilled Whitebait, with a squeeze of lemon, had a strong fishy taste, was nice and crunchy and delicious dipped in the accompanying tartare.
The Scotch Egg however, won the show of the small plates for me. A duck egg, in pork mince and breadcrumbs, served sliced in half with a runny yolk, it was divine. The flavours didn’t overpower one another and the duck egg made a tasty difference to the usual egg, which felt almost a little indulgent!
The mains are split into ‘cooked with Apple wood’ (all the meat options – all £10, apart from the sharing trays), ‘sandwiches and salads’ (all £10 with chips and coleslaw), and sides (all £3.50). The mains section features plenty of combinations for meat lovers from Flat Iron Steak, Half Roast Chicken and Smoked Brisket, to Pulled Pork Challah, Salt Beef Reuben and sharing plates, to accompanying sides including Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Cowboy Beans and Potato Salad (something I definitely associate with English BBQ’s).
The Flat Iron Steak is flash grilled served pink and sliced with marrow bone butter, which adds a delicious richness to the already flavoursome steak. The Smoked Brisket, slow smoked and flash grilled too, had that delicious American BBQ taste – smoky and rich, with an almost sweet touch.
The Beef Short Rib however was on a level of its own – slow smoked and finished on the coal, it was super tender, pulling apart with the times of the fork easily, and had a delicious smoky, rich, taste whilst the meat almost melted in your mouth.
The ‘cooked with applewood’ plates all come by themselves, so sides are a must. The Corn on the Cob, grilled and rolled in Parmesan cheese was a tasty choice, the Smithfield ‘Slaw, a combination of red and white cabbage, onion and mayo, was crisp, fresh and paired delightfully with the meat, whilst the Mac ‘n’ Cheese was intensely cheesy and creamy, always the winner.
There’s only one dessert, a Knickerbocker Glory, which has juicy fresh fruit, and was lovely and refreshing after such a meat feast. A few mouthfuls in and it was enough after such a banquet but do consider sharing one as it’s a great way to finish!
With the accompanying drinks menu featuring speciality spirits, artisanal ales and international wines including award-winning wines and Kentish ciders from their very own Hush Heath Vineyard, there is plenty to offer on that side too. You can see the passion of their vineyard shining through as they’re aiming to bring a little of the Kentish charm to London diners.
As for the charm. The whole experience is pretty full of the stuff. St Bart’s Brewery, is a gorgeous historic bar, restaurant and event venue, overlooking Smithfields Market. With a rustic, dark interior, full of deep browns, dark brickwork and black, and a shiny copper framed bar, it radiates sophistication with a touch of class. There’s a separate room upstairs, which can be closed off with a deep red curtain for private events too, which has the same look and feel – this is where we sat for the evening, attended to by the efficient, attentive team.
Definitely one for the must-visit list. Perhaps go with someone who doesn’t mind sharing a couple of plates or a sharing tray so you can try more than one dish – you can thank me later.
What side is your fave to accompany slow cooked meat?
*I was invited along to try the new Soul Food menu. All views my own.