Bangkok Post reviews
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: November 30, 2012 at 8:22 am
Smith's nose-to-tail menu promises to tingle tastebuds
The downstairs dining room offers a snappy gastropub mood, while the second floor space is designed to provide a refined chef’s table experience and private dining room.
Neatly set behind partly rusted, partly shiny corrugated iron walls, the exterior looks more like an old-fashioned warehouse than a chic eatery. Despite Smith been renowned as one of the city's snappiest dining spots over the past few months, its location can easily be overlooked, creating an enigmatic impression among first-timers.
Entering through a small "back door" entrance, guests may feel they are arriving at a social gastrobar-cum-fear factory. The spacious dining room, invigorated by upbeat tunes and briskly attended by 12 service staff, is decked in the style of a blacksmith exhibition with everything from archaic household tools, time-worn cooking utensils and medieval farming instruments to slaughterhouse hooks and an impressive collection of butcher's knifes (the latter are also for sale) displayed under dim yellow lighting amidst a cosmopolitan bar and professional show kitchen.
The latest brainchild of the team, which successfully introduced Hyde & Seek, Smith might be regarded as a more mature, more gastronomically discerning _ and perhaps darker _ version of the three-year-old Ruamrudee gastropub. The culinary approach is still under the direction of chef Ian Kittichai and chef Peter Pitakwong, yet with more focus on nose-to-tail organic butchered meat and fresh local farm produces.
Reflecting the restaurant's cryptic character, the menu offers a clean yet somewhat abstruse read. Half of the 30-item collection, in categories of salad and comestibles, raw & almost raw, charcuterie, mains and desserts, came with halfway descriptions (they may reveal all the ingredients but omit to disclose the cooking keywords).
Many corners in the restaurant serve as a blacksmith exhibition with archaic household tools, medieval farming instruments and slaughterhouse hooks.
Our dinner began with a platter of complimentary homemade bread, which was superb thanks to its hot crusty exterior and warm cushiony centre, before being carried on in a homely fashion with a fried egg salad (180 baht).
It simply was a healthy jumble of garden greens, namely mizuna, red oak, butterhead and green peas, dredged with tiny cubes of apples, ricotta cheese and pistachio in a tasty Ceasar-like dressing.
The uncomplicated salad was given a sumptuous finish by a neat-looking egg, soft-boiled before being flash-fried to present slightly crunchy golden skin that reveals the flowing yolk.
The meal got more complicated and cosmopolitan with what is described on the menu as "tuna, braised pig's tail-foie gras torchon, foraged vegetables, rosemary, citrus and peas" (250 baht). Tucked under a large, pink tuna carpaccio was a toothsome marriage between torchon of duck liver and minced pig's tail meat. The dish, which failed to leave a memorable note on my palate, was lent a bracing dash by fresh cos leaves, Ceylon spinach flowerets, thin slices of red radish, pomelo pulps and peas.
From a small selection of charcuterie, we settled on spicy mini haggis with whisky and sweet potato (210 baht). The savoury pudding made with pork blood, meat, liver and Scotch whisky, prepared in sausage casing, was perfectly enjoyed with Smith's smart rendering of the traditional Scottish style with puree of sweet potato and fresh turnips.
Smith's main courses include fish, pork, poultry, beef and lamb. We tried three options and found all of them brilliant.
‘‘Almost Surf & Turf’’’ features braised wagyu beef cheek, mashed celeriac, frothy bisque and lobster claw.
The impressive list began with the day's special, "Almost Surf & Turf"' (450 baht). Instead of a typical steak and candidly-cooked seafood duo, the dish featured a generous block of braised wagyu beef cheek on a bed of celeriac mash in a pool of frothy lobster bisque and topped with a steamed lobster claw.
The beef cheek is slowly cooked for nine hours in its juices and red wine until the meat is very tender and flavourful. The bisque was intensified to serve as a rich condiment to the beef, while the naturally sweet and supple claw added a delicate touch to the hefty red meat.
The verjus-glazed pork belly with pickled stone fruit, spicy lentils, mint and coriander (350 baht), which we enjoyed next, is one of the restaurant's most popular meat courses.
A substantial portion of the vinegar-glazed and maple wood-smouldered pork belly displayed firm and tender meat with its supple skin and melt-in-the-mouth fat intact. The pork meat, which provided a pleasant chew, intermingled nicely with the al dente legumes and seared pickled plum. Yet, I found the strong savour of the grape vinegar a bit overwhelming.
For me, the superstar dish of the evening was the smoked salmon with lime creme fraiche froth, mushroom and sunchoke (395 baht). Served in a large soup plate under a glass cover, a nice fillet of salmon had been lightly smoked before being sous-vided to display a thoroughly cooked piece of fish that impressively was moist, supple and flavourful. Complemented lusciously by the fruity fresh cream sauce, crispy wild mushrooms and baked sunchoke (this root vegetable tasted like potato but yielded a sweeter and more nutty tang), it's one of the most impressive salmon dishes I've ever had.
Smith has a fair choice of desserts. My personal recommendation is the Eton Mess, featuring berries, tiny meringue, praline crust and a scoop of fresh vanilla cream (180 baht).
As a bar, it has a nice collection of beers and cocktails _ classic and house-concocted. Making a reservation is recommended.