Three years after introducing his imposing 4.5 tonne custom built BBQ smoker to the London street food scene in 2013, David Carter has found a permanent home for Smokestak on Sclater Street in Shoreditch. Fans of his signature brisket buns no longer have to brave the queues at Street Feast, with online bookings open for groups of up to six in the restaurant. Unsurprisingly, it is predominantly a walk-in joint, but there is a candlelit basement bar with enough booze to keep you happy until a table becomes available. Or you may want to hang around outside like me and photograph the funky UFO lights. Each to their own.
They’ve absolutely nailed the interior design – picture a cross between The Crystal Maze’s industrial and mediaeval zones but without Richard O’Brien and the unnecessary jogging. Bar seats surround an open kitchen complete with a two-metre wide charcoal grill and two truck-size crank wheels for adjusting the height over the coals. The lighting also plays a huge part, reflecting off the steampunk furnishings and creating moody shadows. It’s not quite as dark as Smoking Goat in Soho, but you might want to cast your eyes over a menu before you sit down (or bring a flashlight).
So what are we eating? Crunchy pigtails for starters (and possibly dessert); those bloody wonderful brisket buns; meaty, cured and hot smoked salmon; an outrageous jacket potato stuffed with sour cream and chives; more beef brisket (without the bun this time); probably a rib or two. Any excuse to have more of their pickled red chilli. And at the end of it all, some desserts worth saving space for. The sticky toffee pudding with burnt butter ice cream is glorious, but the plum crumble with malt ice cream, served in an individual iron cocotte, is equally deserving of praise. I’ve had many a good sticky toffee pudding around the UK, but rarely does a crumble compete with Mum’s finest.
The cocktail list is right up my street, filled with burnt peach old fashioneds, penicillins and smokey tequila numbers, but one or two simpler highballs (perhaps a whiskey soda) for a couple quid less wouldn’t go amiss. The beer selection was fine, though there’s room for a more interesting range and perhaps some larger sharing bottles (something that I look forward to at the likes of Smoking Goat and Kiln). The atmospheric basement bar is well worth a visit, and they’ll happily take off-menu requests (as any decent bar should) provided they’ve got the liquor!
Great food, strong drinks, friendly staff, eye-catching design and moody lighting – what’s not to love? I’ll be back soon.
Smokestak – smokestak.co.uk
35 Sclater Street, E1 6LB
Matt The Tips : Head round the corner to The King’s Arms for an outstanding beer selection.