Smokestak

Restaurants, American Shoreditch
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
7 Love It
Save it
 (Credit: Andy Parsons)
1/7
Credit: Andy Parsons
 (Credit: Andy Parsons)
2/7
Credit: Andy Parsons
 (Credit: Andy Parsons)
3/7
Credit: Andy Parsons
 (Credit: Andy Parsons)
4/7
Credit: Andy Parsons
 (Credit: Andy Parsons)
5/7
Credit: Andy Parsons
 (Credit: Andy Parsons)
6/7
Credit: Andy Parsons
 (Credit: Andy Parsons)
7/7
Credit: Andy Parsons

A big bricks-n-mortar smokehouse from the cult street food vendors.

About time, too. Having built a cult following for its smokehouse meats, street food supremo Smokestak has done the decent thing, opening up a restaurant proper. And a proper restaurant it is: 75 seats inside, 30 more outside. A stygian, semi-industrial space with a hum of throbbing beats, it’s like eating in a medieval nightclub.

Keeping with the medieval theme, it was – on the night of my visit at least – dominated by men. Not in a lads-lads-lads kind of way, calling us wenches and slapping our bottoms, but more of a bring-the-boys-for-a-night-of-bromance kind of shizzle. Tables and booths were taken up with bearded thirtysomething blokes, supping on craft beers and cocktails: all part of the man-tastic, meat-lovin’ vibe. At one stage, I saw two fellas do a tiny fist pump (too cute!). Turns out, they’d just found the beef brisket on the menu.

This is a signature dish and rightly so. It comes two ways: a single hunk of flesh, or shredded, in a bun. I prefer the latter, which I first ate at Meatopia (a three-day festival of meat), where it was one of the ‘must-try’ dishes, with a perpetual queue. It’s equally the sine qua non of eating here. Moist, smoky, sweet and salty meat (the brisket is smoked overnight, for 12-14 hours, over English oak) comes snuggled inside a pillowy, slightly sweet bun, brushed with a lick of barbecue sauce and bone marrow butter. It also has a scatter of pickled fresh red chilli, with just the right amount of both tang and heat. Price? A fiver. That’s scandalously good value.

I also approved of the simplicity and restraint of the pastrami: just four slices carved from a brine-cured, hand-rubbed, house-smoked slab of brisket. Here, the smoke is more subtle, as is the sweet-salt balance; there’s a deliciously fatty rind you should definitely eat. Plus slices of classic sweet gherkins and a fresh, crunchy ‘sauerkraut’ of lightly pickled, still-crunchy cabbage and fennel, spiked with caraway seeds.

Garlicky wild mushrooms are cooked in bone marrow: the sticky, unctuous pile is served over beef dripping toast. Don’t take a vegetarian, basically. Or, in fact, a pescatarian. You could technically order fish, but as the two guys next to me scoffed (when I innocently asked if they’d consider it), ‘Why would you?’ Indeed, the biggest thumbs-down of the night was an unpleasantly strong-tasting mackerel (I sent it back; it was instantly struck from the bill – a big tick for service, at least).

But a bigger issue is this: every dish comes laden with ‘smoke’, or calories, or both. Choose carelessly, and you’ll end up with an exhausting, ‘one-note’ meal. A baby gem ‘salad’ arrived under a blanket of grated cheese and sour cream. An ice cream arrived unpalatably smoky (enough already! You have your own smoker. We get it). The sticky toffee pud is insanely good, but may just push you over the edge.

So go hungry – and I mean, caveman hungry – and order plenty of the citrussy fennel and celery slaw. A palate-cleansing yin to all that meaty yang, it’ll allow you to appreciate what Smokestak does best.

By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: Smokestak
Contact:
Address: 35 Sclater St
London
E1 6LB
Opening hours: Mon-Sat midday-3pm, 5.30pm-11pm; Sun 5.30pm-11pm.
Transport: Tube: Liverpool St
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £80.
Do you own this business?
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|3
3 people listening
MooseInLondon
Tastemaker

London is becoming a victim of its own success. I have been wanting to try Smokestak for quite a while now (the smells alone are cruel when you pass by outside) but between then and now I have tried other BBQ places in town (Texas Joes near LBG, Bodeans at Tower Hill, Dukes in N1, HotBox in Spitalfields) and the therefore my expectations were even higher. 


First off--- wonderful staff. Walked in with no reservations (a death knell at times in the area) but got seated at the bar no worries. Their Peach Old Fashioned was incredible, it tasted like a peach iced tea, which is, of course, dangerous when you only want one.  


We shared a plate of brisket, pork ribs, baked potato with rarebit, and some charred greens (which although was not stated on the menu had nuts on it, so just beware!). 


The brisket definitely won on the meat front. Deliciously tender and paired wonderfully with the chilis and BBQ sauce it came with. However, only two slices for £9.50 is a bit (pardon the pun) cheeky. The porks ribs (again two) were good but the brisket was the clear winner. The pickles that came with it though were fantastic.


The sides were a definite highlight. Don't get me wrong I love me some chips with a BBQ, but Smokstak offers more innovate (dare I say adult?) sides which tickle the tastebuds. The baked potato was fabulous and very large so no qualms splitting it. The vegetables were a refreshing accompaniment, helping to offset the heavy meat and starch which is normal in BBQ places. 


The issue is now with the deluge of BBQ places in the area, which one to go to? I suppose it depends on the type of BBQ you like. Smokstak wins on their innovative cocktails and sides, but for value not sure they match Texas Joes or Hotbox. Ugh. 


The struggle is real my friends. I recommend you come here yourself and make your own opinions. Suggest having an old fashioned whilst you deliberate. 

L-J
tastemaker

Once you initially get your head round the fact the decor looks like a torture dungeon, and you keep telling yourself it is just an incredibly industrial look, you will be fine. The food speaks for itself, they really have nailed this place. Definitely not a restaurant you would want to sit in on a warms summer evening, so pop down there whilst you can still enjoy a cosy dark atmosphere inside. We had an incredible meal we ordered to start too share their signature brisket bun with pickled chillies, do not be too alarmed with the amount of red chillies you see, the pickling process takes a lot of the heat out. I would recommend if you are sharing to have a large brisket bun £8.00 completely delicious, accompanied by the baked beetroot, goats cheese and hazelnut salad, great combination and start. For the main course we shared the thick cut pork rib with pickled cucumber, £9.00 cooked to perfection, fell off the bone beautifully smoked and marinated, the celery almond preserve lemon slaw which had a very contrasting but complimentary fresh and crisp taste,  as well as the jacket potato smoked rarebit, very cheesy and heavenly. Finished up with the salted caramel ice cream and washed down with a bottle of Rioja. The bill was a very reasonable £40 a head.  The staff were very helpful and lovely, we popped in early Saturday evening without a booking and ate at the bar, great experience all round the place was heaving so they are obviously doing something right. Would definitely recommend booking on the weekend. 


02curtisb
tastemakerTastemaker

The food here is refined. That the plates look elegant does not by any means take away from the big but balanced flavours or generous servings we associate with BBQ food. Smokestak is simply delicious and has great atmosphere and buzz about it. Particular highlights were the crispy pig tails, thick cut pork ribs (as good if not better than their street food days) and surprisingly the vegetarian smoked aubergine dish. For 2 people with a glass of wine we paid just over £60 and both came out stuffed (and I eat big). Really good value, and cant wait to go back to try the rest of the menu or, as I saw it, the checklist...and I have to mention the smoked ice cream....see I cant stop talking about the food here!