What’s The Word on Bird of Smithfield’s New Chef ?

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-12-24-05-pmLondon is filled with restaurants that, when it comes down to it, you’re not quite sure what to make of them, even after you walk through the door and take a look at the menu.

Bird of Smithfield is one of those spots. You’ve most likely seen it as you travel through Farringdon, and maybe you’ve even gone in. And in the end, here’s what this Bird is all about: It’s an unassuming but beautiful spot with an unassuming but beautiful menu.

Bird of Smithfield

img_7598I’m actually not sure I totally understand the dynamic of Bird. It’s a multi-level building each with it’s own mixed-message theme.

Take a look at it’s funky, chic entry level lounge, currently decked out with professional-grade Christmas lights around the window and homemade paper chains hanging from the bar. It’s warm, inviting and so much fun for drinks and conversation.

And then compare that to the upstairs dining room which is… bland.

Not bad, but where did the cool go? It’s all beige walls topped with oil portraits of men in pain, exactly like you’re walking through one of London’s famous old museums.

img_7596In the press release, it is described as a “classically styled dining room,” and sure, that’s a good way to put it. I’d say it’s nice, calm and boring.

(I do, however, love the Shining-esq wallpaper though that connects the two floors.)

And here’s the thing, the menu seems pretty much the same. Take a look at it and see what jumps out:

img_7597You might go, “Hmmm,” like I did.

When I first glanced at it, it looked similar to other menus in the area. Classic British dishes that might make you shrug. But like the rest of the building, there are hidden surprises to be found here.

The Food

I was invited down to Bird to try the new items by new head chef Tommy Boland, and it did not disappoint.

New Head Chef Tommy Bolland

New Head Chef Tommy Boland

The whole menu is filled with unexpected addition to dishes that seem perfectly ordinary. We ate a baked heritage beetroot salad that came with sweet ice wine vinegar. My Scottish beef tartare was blended with a truly amazing truffle cream sauce, something I’ve never seen done before to the dish. Even our bread came with a side of seaweed infused butter.

Woah and wow.

Throughout the meal, every dish we tried had some sort of unique twist to it, for the Rump of veal with buckwheat spätzle and Jerusalem artichoke, which literally felt like it was bursting with flavour and sauce to the roasted loin of Scottish venison with beetroot that tasted even better than it looked, and its presentation was spot on.

Even our desserts were beautifully done. We ordered the chocolate brownie sundae and it came as a chocolate heaven deconstructed beautiful mess. Look how good this looks!

The Atmosphere

Now, not everything is as great as the dishes. The service is impeccable but slow. No one is in a rush here and it feels that way, even our cocktails took a long while to arrive (and at one point, dishes were served before them although everything was ordered at the same time.) Bread with my tartare came so burned it was more char than crust.

And again, the atmosphere of the place totally misses the mark with the uniqueness of the food.

In the end, I think Bird is trying to figure out what it wants to serve to whom, but I will say that this new menu takes old British fair and adds new British flare. And that’s worth a night out.

THE GOOD: The dishes, which take classic British fare and spice it up a notch with some really unique twists.

THE BAD: The atmosphere of the dining room is as bland as it comes and the service is seriously no-rush. Settle in.

Bird of Smithfield is located at 26 Smithfield Street, London, EC1A 9LB. You can make a reservation here.