When I worked in the City, lunch was mostly a hurried affair. A quick takeaway from a local sandwich shop, sometimes a special delivery from a Japanese catering company or an occasional treat at a wine bar. There weren’t many choices. In those days, you would find everyone at a pub on Fridays and the afternoons were often written off.
Today, the suits are much more earnest. Fridays’ long boozy lunches are frowned upon but lunch venues are abundant and varied.
Bird of Smithfield was not around then. It would have been our local.
On the first floor of this Georgian town house, an elegant dining room overlooks Smithfield market. As we sit down for lunch, a tray of homemade bread and two types (one seaweed) of lightly whipped butter is delivered. The modern British menu is not extensive but has enough choices for even the most discerning customer.
We opt for the a la carte choices and start off with Isle of Orkney Scallops, Jerusalem Artichoke puree and chanterelles. Perfectly cooked pillows of seafood on a soft puree and adorned with shavings of flavour. My dining companion had the Roasted Foie Gras with Sweet and Sour plums and plum sake glaze. The generous portion of foie was rich and unctuous, cut through with the unusual sake glazed plums. The acidity was a perfect balance to the foie.
Main courses were equally well executed. My Roasted Sirloin of Beef with mushroom persillade, spinach, straw potato and red wine was meltingly tender. The jus on this dish is a fine reminder of how precise fine French cooking is, rich flavours enhanced the meat and the vegetables. Light and crispy straw potatoes should be on every menu, my favourite combination of texture and taste.
The second main course was a Breast of Guinea Fowl served with crushed root vegetables, Agen prune, sprouts and roasting juices. There was nothing to fault here. The tender moist bird served with the best prunes from Agen and another fabulous jus. It’s a dish that you never want to stop eating.
After the 2 excellent courses, we were offered a dessert list that was so tempting, we could not resist. This beautiful creation is a Lemon sponge, clementine sorbet, lemon curd with poached clementine. A light sponge adorned with a few different tangy citrus flavours. Not overly sweet but certainly fresh and zingy.
The second pudding’s obviously the work of a highly skilled patisserie chef. It reads like this, Vanilla Baked Cheesecake, blackcurrant and rhubarb and it looks a million dollars. The tart fruits married with a light cheesecake is just
What a delightful place for lunch. Precision cooking, fabulous flavours and very friendly and competent service. There are set lunch options if you are short on time. The choices on that lunch menu are similar to that on the ala carte menu and is great value at £25 for 2 courses. On the ground floor, there is a casual dining menu and a bar with some very cosy banquettes.
If my office was still near Farringdon, this would definitely be a regular haunt. I must make some lunch dates with my old colleagues who work down the road. The Bird of Smithfield deserves a revisit soon.
Bird of Smithfield
26 Smithfield St,
London EC1A 9LB
Tel: 020 7559 5100
EatCookExplore was a guest of Bird of Smithfield