Despite opening in the middle of 2013, Bird of Smithfield was yet to make my list. Lots told me this place was unlikely to deliver against my hunger for veg focused dining. First, Its location across from Smithfields Market. Being Masterminded by Alan Bird (exec chef at the Ivy for 15 years) and that it’s positioning as a membership free members club, both further pointers.
But when I was asked along by two Gloucestershire ladies, I thought I’d put my apprehension aside for what promised to be a fun night. As we settled in for a drink in the downstairs bar, I began to warm to the place. A buzzy feel, accommodating staff. A members club feel to the furnishing and artwork. We were tempted to visit the roof top bar, but we were hungry!
A slight butchery smell made me wonder if I’d made a big mistake, as we climbed the stairs. But as we sat in big comfy chairs, and viewed the menu, I loosened a little. The menu is meaty, there’s no two ways about it. One veg main and two starters, which could be ordered as main sizes if desired.
The wine list was extensive. We settled on this rather lovely Sauvingnon Blanc. It was that sort of night.
The food arrived promptly despite a full dining room. And the service was both casual and friendly.
For starter all three of us had the same salad of garden veg, with a crispy egg (£9). The veg sourced from a garden in Temple Guiting, where one of the backers of Bird of Smithfield owns a Manor House accommodation. The egg was superb and the freshness of the veg was striking. Especially the the asparagus and peas. The only downside that the acidity of lightly pickled root veg distracted from the veg.
The main was right up my street. Bubble and Squeak dumplings. They had the soft doughiness of dumplings but a crispy outer, a nice contrast. The tomato sauce subtle yet smokey. I’m often experimenting with smoked flavours in my own kitchen, but I would be hard pressed to make something like this. And the veg, loads and loads of brilliant greenery. Asparagus, peas, a little cress. A real tribute to seasonal freshness.
My dining friends were non-veg and one had the Fish and Chips. We snuck one of the triple fried chips from her plate, and had to order an extra side, all to ourselves. Up there with the best fries I’ve had in London.
We didn’t really have room for desert, but the menu tempted us.
I think the salt caramel could have been a little punchier. The lightly spiced burnt cream, unexpected, it really worked. All were devoured. Very good.
We left Bird of Smithfield more than satisfied. While there are a lot of restaurants in London which give non-meat eaters more choice, Bird doesn’t leave anyone out in the cold.
Why would a #veggie go to @BirdofSmithfield
26 Smithfield St, Smithfields, London EC1A 9LB
Phone: 020 7559 5100
Reviewer: Jared May 2, 2014
Disclosure: Our evening at Bird was complimentary, but not due to any connection with this post.