Barnsley lamb chop at smokehouse


A pub, Jim, but not as we know it



As boozers go, this is a diamond of a find. It’s no surprise that the food at Smokehouse is leagues ahead of your usual pub grub, considering the breadth of experience of its head chef Neil Rankin. Making London tummies happy is a talent that Rankin has honed across the kitchens of Pitt Cue Co, John Salt, and Rhodes 24 to name a few.


Foie gras, apple pie, duck egg at smokehouse


Now his expertise finds its home in a snug corner of Islington, where out of his kitchen come such delights as just-cooked egg yolk on apple pie with a generous serving of seared foie gras. Duck egg makes a second appearance under a seasonal heaping of parmesan, artichoke and purposefully burnt leeks which chomp together with good harmony of flavours. Following this, a salty-chewy slab of sourdough, textured with a landscape of lobster bisque and crab.


Leeks, artichoke, parmesan, duck egg at smokehouse

Crab on toast at smokehouse


As a smokehouse is traditionally a place where meat is salted and cured, you would rightfully expect the meat here to be a show stealer. A Barnsley chop does not disappoint, presenting the eater with a cross section of lamb saddle – effectively a double loin chop and fillet all in one cut. The meat is cooked to medium, effortlessly straddling the balance between a good rendering of fat and retention of juice.


Outdoor seating at Smokehouse

Smokehouse fruit cup, fresh OJ

Indoor seating at Smokehouse


There is more than one cheeky thing about desserts, with the ‘Double D’ turning a humble chocolate bar (the double decker) into a sassy tart. Although it is a very serious dessert, it is not a sombre affair. What we have is a playful layering of rice crispies, nut-packed nougat and a great slab of chocolate, with a side scoop of pistachio ice cream. A second dessert of toffee pudding is gooey and unctous, dolloped in a puddle of slow-cooked apple and fruity syrup.

More than just a competent pub, this is a solid restaurant, offering excellent food in a deceptively relaxed environment. It is more than possible to have a merry time at under £30 per person – you can’t say fairer than that.


Sticky toffee apple cobbler at smokehouse

Americano at smokehouse

Double D tart, pistachio ice cream at smokehouse

Tube: Highbury and Islington.

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