I’d heard good things about Smoking Goat, but only in the same way that happens with so many restaurants almost every week now in London. It gets added to the mental (sometimes actual) list of places I want to experience, but as I’m limited to one or maybe two a month on my budget, naturally they pile up. Amazingly it’s been open a year already (don’t care, I’m keeping this #frontlist) but having finally been, I urge you to prioritise this place.
The front section of the restaurant is bar-busy, with high tables and a frenetic atmosphere. We could barely get our heads in the steamed up door to give our booking name on this Thursday evening and I’ll be honest, I feared a hipster eating experience. But by booking, we had done the right thing. They have a minimum six person requirement and it’s soon apparent why. We are led through to an incredible oasis-like back room; all brick, glass and unexpected lush greenery, and completely empty with around five large tables for groups. I had an immediate sense of relief that these people know what they’re doing.
Smoking Goat’s dishes are Thai but characterised by a freshness of thought and ingenuity, combining traditional flavours with wood-smoked meat and incredibly simple yet delicious seafood. They have become quickly famous for their fish sauce chicken wings, and rightly so. Crispy, light, sticky, salty, hot… Lord they were good. I’d come back here just to have a plate of them at the bar with a cold beer. The coal-roasted scallops were full of flavour and heat yet retained their delicacy.
Fish sauce chicken wings; coal-roasted scallops.
Waterfall Longhorn beef; shoulder of goat.
We decided to go for a couple of mains and share, which is probably the best way to handle the menu. In this instance, Waterfall Longhorn beef onglet was a special; pork chop (hold that thought) and a seriously impressive whole shoulder of goat, also on the specials. Quite simply, all three were some of the best meat I’d tasted. Pork chops always resemble overcooked rubber to me and are never my main of choice, but this was bigger (serving two!) and juicier then anything I’d encountered. A few papaya salads to freshen things up, plus little individual portions of sticky rice in bags to spoon the remaining juices on to, all washed down with a couple (ahem) of bottles of excellent Morgon and we were happy as Larry.
I can’t leave without also mentioning that wine list – selected by Zeren Wilson of bittenandwritten.com, it’s bold enough to include two orange wines and a bloody Lambrusco. The latter we started with and I don’t regret it.
I’d say that any group between 3-5 probably wouldn’t work here. The front section is great for two or even one if you’re passing, but the back is the only traditional dining area. In some ways they’ve cracked catering for different purposes and I’d be happy to come here for either.
Our bill: £58 per head including service.
Smoking Goat, 7 Denmark Street, WC2H 8LZ
Bookings online at smokinggoatsoho.com
Images both mine and @smokinggoatsoho on Instagram