The name gives it away but for the non-Londoners reading this, Smiths of Spitalfields abuts Spitalfields market. To get there, head to Liverpool Street station and follow the exit signs to Bishopsgate. From there, use your smartphone. If you don't have a smartphone (seriously?!) get out the old AA pocket map and use that instead. Or, you could ignore me and get a little bit lost - which can also be fun.
Yesterday was the 'VIP relaunch party', and I was feeling pretty don-like to be attending. Bar a few suits, the crowd inside looked decidedly 'media': bouffant quiffs, floral shirts, rolled up trousers...and that was just the men. Let's just say the impulse purchase red lipstick that shamefully festers in my handbag came in handy. Plus my shirt had anchors on it, and anchors are always fun. Enough said.
Spanning four floors...well three full floors and a mezzanine-ish floor, Smiths of Spitalfields is pretty big. Each floor is different not just in name, but feel as well: Basement Bar, Cafe and Bar on the Ground Floor, Dining Room on the first floor, and a private loft on the second.
We probably should have started at the top and worked our way down to the end with drinks and a live band, but as a vegetarian I was slightly worried that there would be no food suitable for me (there was a big cow on the invite, and the same cow stares back at you on the website) so I thought I could fill up on the fruit found in cocktails.
Basement bar complete with live band...or as I headed down too early, just their instruments
Unfortunately, the cocktails we ordered were the Hemingway Daquiri and the Mint Choc Sip which were devoid of fruit. No fruit. But then again, not all cocktails are made fruity. On a side note, Hemingway Daquiri...really?! A man associated with sheer manliness and uncomplicated prose is woven into the name of one of the slushiest, and unashamedly girliest cocktails.
There is nothing noble in having a Daquiri named after you.
Take a look for yourself...ooo, pink and in a martini glass!
The bar itself is black, red and the word plush springs to mind. It doesn't feel as big as the Cafe and Dining room, but then again they had to relinquish space for toilets on at least one of the floors, and I guess the basement bar won that bid.
The bar area is somewhat small but that allows more space for plenty of seats so you can sit and enjoy the live acts, unless it's really packed and you're the last one there.
The Basement Bar is open Monday - Sunday, noon to 1am. Plus, it's available for private hire...you know, like when you have a book release party...or whatever.
Onto one of the floors I was dreading. OK, dread is a strong word, it was more a sense of 'mild wariness'. I've mentioned before that I'm a plant-eating (not power, but legumes and the rest) vegetarian. I have to specify plant-eating because apparently some people eat fish and think that they can still be classed as veggie...er, no. You have a name, it's pescetarian.
Anyway, I was concerned that despite the food being free, it wouldn't be free from all things meaty, forcing me to watch as my cousin ate, and ate, and ate, and ate, and ate while I watched (kind of like the cow on the website).
Thankfully, one of the first things that came around was a mini veggie burger. Yay! Halleluljah, thank the vegetarian Gods. Peace be upon my hungry stomach.
This was followed by fish goujons which are obviously very different to fish fingers, and pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches. Both elicited the old 'triple nod and smile' response from my cousin. She also told me that the pork was soft and tender in a slow cooked way. That meant nothing to me as I was trying to imagine slow cooking a carrot, but to you meat fiends out there, maybe it will.
While the meat parade continued I made full use of the free prosecco, and then...like a shining beacon of compacted beans, vegetables and carrots came another plate of veggie burgers - I took two, and continued to do so for the rest of our time in the Cafe.
Considering the cow on the website and the invite, I thought we'd see beef sooner than we did. But, take this as a good sign. The mini beef burgers were so popular that my cousin practically had to tackle one of the wait staff to secure herself one. They were seriously going like wildfire...and after watching Game of Thrones, we all know just how fast wildfire moves. Ouch.
Cousin's beef burger verdict: two syllable 'hmmmm' and a double thumbs up.
While the Basement Bar is all dark and funky with it's film nights and album release parties, the Cafe & Bar is more chilled out. With a view of the market, and an extensive menu of hearty fare it's great for brunch with friends or late night scoffing.
The Cafe is open Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm; Saturday to Sunday 9:30pm – 5pm. While the bar is open Monday to Sunday 5pm – Late.
Prosecco was again flowing freely, however, my worst fears were confirmed. No, Sharks hadn't evolved to survive on land and terrorise restaurant goers...but, the floor was not veggie friendly. Although the wait staff were extremely accommodating and did check to see if anything could be made for me.
Dining Room chefs keeping up with us launch party gannets
On the whole, the experience was still good as I was hopped up on all the mini veggie burgers I had consumed (a hearty 7) so I wasn't particularly famished.
On the whole my cousin was satisfied with the food on this floor, so if you meaties are interested in hearty food, in a slightly swankier setting, you can still head to Smiths of Spitafields, but book the dining room instead. Besides, the actual dining room menu does have the odd veggie option even if the launch party didn't showcase them...so you might find me in there trying them out. Ok, ok...I'm a glutton for dessert, they had me at sticky toffee pudding.
I thought I'd save this one till the end, not just because we went there last (technically we went all the way back down to the basement to use the toilets and briefly listen to the band), but because this will be the shortest section...and after the marathon reading session you've endured above (if anyone has actually made it here) you deserve something short and sweet.
The Private Loft is exactly what it says: an area available for private hire.
It overlooks the dining room so you can spy on other diners, or be somewhat less creepy and simply enjoy the view out of the slanted windows on the market below.
Other than more free drinks, and food from the dining room, there was not much else happening here, but I think that's the point. It's quieter than every other floor, and though you have a great vantage point, no one else can see you. Although, if you hired it out I'm sure you could make it as zen-like or as rowdy as you fancied!