There was five of us but we all pretty much ordered the same things as they sounded so good. About half of us had decided to try the ham hock, pig's head and cuttlefish romescu 'sphere' until we were told by the waiter that they were out of that. It was fairly easy to decide to have the short rib bourguignon instead though, especially as we kept seeing them come out of the pass and they looked very good indeed.
To start I had the chopped brisket roll with gojuchang, an immense croquette of chunky meat. At first I was disappointed that it was a bit dry but as I worked my way through it, the meat and fattiness of the brisket came through, providing some juiciness, and of course there was the spicy gojuchang to smear on it. I'm not saying there wasn't enough of this vibrant orange sauce, but I am saying I wish there had been more.
On to the mains - ticking into my bourgignon and I all but forgot about the existence of the 'sphere'. I'm not a mushroom fan, but these were easily scooped out of the light broth that the meat came in. The meat was a star, a rightful contender to our favourite 'cue joints - BBQWhiskeyBeer and Pitt Cue. I loved the addition of pancetta and crispy onion strips as well. We didn't realise that this dish came with mashed potato, which made me feel a bit of a pogger as I also added a couple of roasted potatoes to my plate.
Again, we were a two-dish table - those that didn't have the shortrib had the peppered ox cheek which came with cauliflower cheese. No real complaints there - the ox cheek was tender with a good smokey flavour but apparently some of the cauliflower could have done with a few more minutes to soften up.
It wasn't exactly a special occasion but the Smokehouse isn't a cheap place and so we doubted we'd be back for a while - we decided to make the most of it and get the Korean pulled pork as a side. What a dish. Between five of us, we basically had one mouthful which wasn't nearly enough, though the kimchi was potent enough for that one bite to knock your head off a bit. My favourite pulled pork specimen by far.
After all this we were easily full but I had seen a lot of love for the sticky toffee apple cobbler on reviews and knew I wanted to give that a try. Only, upon hearing what Vanilla Vanilla Vanilla consisted of, my convictions were swayed. Luckily Stephen had the apple dish so I was still able to try it, and it did trump my Triple V, although that was also very good. It was a bit like a tres leches - vanilla sponge soaked with vanilla liqueur with vanilla fudge and vanilla ice cream (really should be a Quadruple V). It was basically cake and ice cream for grown ups.
The cobbler though - sweet dense pudding, many, many more stewed apples than expected, and a light toffee sauce, with ice cream to top it off? Heavenly.
And we all rather enjoyed our character of a waiter who clearly had a little more than his fair share of the gift of the gab. It all made for a hugely enjoyable meal. What more can I say? Believe the hype.
**I have been reliably informed (by Neil Rankin himself no less) that it was not a cheese sauce but Thai mayo which makes more sense.