My office used to be near Smithfield and I remember stories of my colleagues who have partied all night and rolled in to work after an 8am fry up in one those “early houses”, morning pubs catering to the workers in Smithfield market and others who work anti social night shifts. These pubs were their after work stop for a relaxing pint before going home, even if it is at 8.30am.
These pubs are dwindling in numbers as the demographic has changed and other factors. The cost of a pint has gone up, drink driving laws and the congestion charge have all played a part in this. Around Smithfield, you can still find an early morning pint and a fry up at the Fox and Anchor and The Hope, but who knows how long they will be around for. There are few of the pubs that have the exceptional license to open out of the ordinary licensing hours.
The pubs around Smithfield now cater more to the office workers in the area who have more money to spend than an average market porter. They have all smartened up and added more modern choices on both the drink and food menus.
St Barts is modern pub housed in an old bank building. Inside, double height ceilings festooned with very architectural set lighting chandeliers. The glass balustrade lined mezzanine floor provides more seating and leads onto the Balfour Bar.
Trade is buzzy at lunchtime. The tall bar tables lined up in front of the bar is filled with people stopping by for a quick lunch. The back room has a couple of big groups, obviously on an office outing.
We choose a table on the mezzanine with banquette seating, overlooking the main bar. There is a hum of noise, it’s not too loud that you can still have a conversation.
The kitchen has just been gifted with a new BBQ oven and the chef has been having fun creating new dishes for the menu. The menu is not your regular fish and chips and burger but more American. Making the most of his new BBQ, the menu reflects the chef’s creativity.
We kick off with the chicken wings and burnt ends, the bits that are the end of the BBQ brisket. The wings are a bit spicy but well marinated and smoky. On Mondays, they offer bottomless wings and beer for just £3. (Must remember that when I’m in the area next time.) The burnt ends were melting bits of meat coated in a deep BBQ sauce, slightly spicy. There’s a lot of meat for a starter. We also had a nice old fashioned pint of prawns, a contrast to highly flavoured meats.
This is one of the few places in London where you can find Hush Heath’s highly acclaimed Balfour Brut Rosé sparkling wine, as it part of the Hush Heath Estate’s growing hospitality empire. At St Barts, they also serve a selection of Jake’s craft beers (made by the son) and a new Hush Heath Sparkling Apple wine.
For mains, there are a few choices from the grill section. The choices ranged from BBQ beef short ribs, brisket to steak, but we settled for half a roast chicken and some baby back ribs. The portions are huge. Side dishes we ordered to balance out the meat heavy meal were potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans and sweet potato fries.
Interestingly, the BBQ flavouring on each of the dishes we sampled were all different. The wings, burnt ends and the ribs all had different flavours. This was unexpected as I was expecting them to use one house BBQ sauce. The ribs were marinated and slow roasted until the meat was falling off the bone. Loved them. Roast chicken had a hint of smoke but was still juicy and moist and there was a lot of it.
There were only 2 options for dessert, chocolate or fruity knickerbocker glory ice cream sundaes. So we had one of each. If you are treating yourself to an indulgence, this will be it. It delivered smiles all around, especially to the 7 year old dining with us.
St Barts is unusual for a City pub. They seem to be very popular as an event venue and is regularly booked up for weddings at the weekend. I’d suggest you get down there for a weeknight supper. Start with a glass of the sparkling rose or craft beer, order a pile of chicken wings and ribs and finish off with a towering knickerbocker glory. It’s simple, unpretentious and thoroughly satisfying.
St Barts Brewery
66 W Smithfield,
London EC1A 9DY
Tel: 020 7600 2705
EatCookExplore was a guest of St Barts.