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|Address:||67-77 Charterhouse Street, London EC1M 6HJ|
|Tel:||020 7251 7950|
|Price: £46.00||Wine: £17.95||Champagne: £45.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 7am-4.45pm 6-10.45pm Sat 10am-11pm Sun 9.30am-4.45pm|
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Smiths is a cool concept, one that caters for everyone in a kind of culinary version of Dante’s Circles of Hell. I’ve long grown out of the 200 decibel ground-floor bar and diner: I adore the calm and civility of the top floor with its attentive and understated service, and memories of the most perfect (and most expensive) sirloin steak I’ve ever eaten.
Meeting friends from Hong Kong recently I decided to check out the limbo that was neither ground-floor nor top-floor: it styles itself the Dining Room. It’s still pretty noisy (there’s a hole in the centre of the room that lets the sound float upwards), but it’s got a nice, lofty vibe and, as the sun sets, the light (especially now that London Transport have razed the surrounding buildings to the ground) is wonderfully atmospheric.
Our friends were hideously late so a couple of gin martinis kept us going. When we finally ordered, the menu offered something for everyone: a nicely international influence with an emphasis on meat and fish. I had a flavoursome Thai Beef Salad (£7.25) which had a nice kick and some suitably zingy notes. Also consumed were a beautifully smooth chicken liver and foie gras parfait (£6.50) and a nicely textured risotto of summer vegetables.
For a main I had a simply grilled whole bream (£16.50) – nicely cooked with a crisp skin – though the accompanying salad of fennel, endive and radish was a bit drab and non-descript. Elsewhere salt beef seemed to please, and a slow roast piece of belly pork looked terrific. We washed it down with a perky Bordeaux pink that went under the deliciously camp name of Marilyn. The bill came in at £186, fair enough but the experience wasn’t particularly special. Definitely worth considering paying for an upgrade!