The Grill on the Market, West Smithfield.

Simplicity with a bit more personal choice & the sizeable wine list has something for everyone.

 

The Grill on the Market (formerly Smithfield Bar and Grill – and before that The Living Room) has been refurbished again, but is still managed by the same company and the layout is pretty well unchanged with entry through a large bar area (the restaurant menu is available in the bar too, but there is no specific bar menu), and then up into a fairly spacious, but windowless, restaurant area.

Visiting at a lunch time, my starter of seared foie gras (£10) comes pleasantly presented on a circle of gingerbread accompanied by drizzles of fig jam. It is tasty and not overly sweet. Barbican Life Editor and my fellow diner, Lawrence, chooses seared scallops with ham crisps and cauliflower puree (£11.50), which he finds a little on the bland side – yet still eats them all up, so they can’t be too bad.

Regarding mains, I like the main menu format: choose a cut of steak (£12 – £55), a burger (£13 – £18.50) or one of the five fish (£15.50 – £20), then a sauce or rub (priced extra for meat £1 – £2.50). If you’re having fish, select the cooking method. Choose your veggies and/or style of potatoes (£3.50/4.00). It’s simplicity with a bit more personal choice. There is also a “Best of the Rest” menu section with a lamb, chicken or vegetable tart dish.

I order blackened bream fillets (rubbed with Cajun seasoning) accompanied by a small jug of creamy, curry coronation sauce and a fresh mixed leaf salad. I enjoy my dish, the bream is substantial, spicy and nicely cooked.

The blackened bream with the creamy coronation curry sauce

The blackened bream with the creamy coronation curry sauce

Lawrence chooses the lunchtime special – blue cheese and mushroom stuffed beef roulade with tomato salad and roast red pepper (£17). The beef is a little bit more overcooked than ordered so a slightly rarer replacement arrives – which he then thoroughly enjoys.

The sizable wine list is sufficiently varied in price and quality. There’s something for everyone – Il Banchetto Rosso £15, Rioja Reserva £28, Brunello £69, Chateau Latour 2001 £700 and lots of in-between choices. Wines by the glass start at £4. We choose Mamaku sauvignon blanc (£7 or £9.25 per glass) and Chilean cabernet (£4.25 or £5.50 per glass)

For dessert we have excellent homemade ice cream (£5) and bread and butter pudding (£6.00) served with a slightly tart apricot sauce which is a good counter to the sweetness of the pudding.

Part of the spacious restaurant area

Part of the spacious restaurant area

When Lawrence and I visit on a Thursday lunchtime the restaurant is just about full (seats 120) and the atmosphere is bright, professional and lively. Solid wooden tables for two are placed quite cosily close in short rows. Larger round corner stainless steel tables seating four to six offer a little more privacy. The leather seating is comfortable and the walls of exposed timber and lightly white washed brick are in keeping with the Smithfield Market location. Service from our very knowledgeable waiter is efficient and friendly.

Although this feels very much a grown ups venue there is a children’s menu available – £6 for two courses. Mains include spaghetti with cheese sauce, chicken breast and plaice goujons. Dessert is ice cream or jaffa cake mess.

The restaurant is accessed through the spacious wood and brick bar area – with a fish tank at the end of the bar – and there is live music every evening.

 

The Grill on the Market, 2-3 West Smithfield, London EC1A 9JX. Tel: 020 7246 0900. Website www.blackhouse.uk.com

Restaurant opening times: Mon-Sat noon-11pm. Bar opening times: Mon-Wed noon-midnight, Thurs-Sat noon-1am. Happy hour 5pm-7pm every evening.

 

Stephanie Ross – November 2012