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A street-food star selling some of the best beef ribs in London.
Please note, Smokestak has now left Dinerama to open a permanent restaurant. Time Out Food & Drink Editors, January 2017.
If you went into a coma in 1985 and woke up yesterday, one of the first changes you’d notice would be meat on the street. Street food has grown so much it might have been dosed with steroids. And heavily meat-based street cooking has led the way.
Smokestak is one of the beneficiaries of this change in London’s dining culture, and one of its out-and-out stars. Meat may be everywhere, but few places – indoors or out – do it as well as Smokestak.
Many meat specialists make a USP out of TTHS – Try Too Hard Seasoning. They layer on the kimchee, the jalapeños, the harissa or the fruity sauce. Don’t get me wrong: the pile-it-high approach can yield great food. But it’s much more impressive when a chef bases his or her cooking on buying great ingredients and then doing as little as possible to them.
That’s the idea behind Smokestak, a star of the street-food scene at Dalston and elsewhere. It sells brisket and spare ribs, and pulled pork sandwiches too. But the star turn is beef rib, the most expensive item on the menu at £12. This is USDA prime beef, melt-in-mouth tender, seasoned with a beautifully balanced spice rub so good it’s a crime to put barbecue sauce on it.
Smokestak finishes ribs and brisket on the grill, adding sauce as they cook. If you’re taking it home, ask for no grilling and no sauce, and heat it very briefly in the microwave. And even if you’re eating it there, you can ask them to hold the sauce.
This will give you major meat-street-cred in the eyes of the grillmaster, who may be Mr Smokestak himself, David Carter. He started the business in 2013 after working front of house for Gordon Ramsay and Roka, among other gigs. It took months of travelling and studying in the USA (‘around 4,000 miles’) before he ‘really nailed it’.
Watching Carter at work is not that different from watching a great sushi chef: quiet and studious, he is totally absorbed in what he’s doing. There should be a sign over the stall saying: Quiet, Master at Work. Go to watch (and eat) at Dinerama Wednesday to Sunday, and Dalston Yard and Model Market (Lewisham) on Friday and Saturday.
19 Great Eastern St
|Transport:||Tube: Old Street, Overground: Shoreditch High St.|
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