I remember, when I was a child, looking forward to Saturday lunches at my grandmother’s. Running down the stairs. Always the same - the chimney fire, the meat grilled above the embers, thinly cut shallots, served with a slice of baguette to absorb the juice. Each bite was simply perfect - I can taste it to this day. There was no need for salt, nor sauce. It has been a while but I have found the exact same pleasure at The Grill on the market… Oh, this took me years back. But come on and have a look!The location is ideal - just on the side of the Smithfield market where the best London butchers are found. A 10mn walk to the Barbican - just in case you are looking for a lovely place to finish a cultural afternoon… On the decoration side, expect natural touches (brick, wood, golden atmosphere, leather chairs and sofas) mixed with design, slightly art deco lamps. We loved the theatrical light effect on the tables, putting all the focus on the dishes. Projector, please!To celebrate the week-end, we started with a cocktail. The list is simply fascinating, with quite a few innovative options that will convince you to come back for the Happy Hour. We were treated to a fruity rum punch (Appleton VX, Gosling’s black seal, Cointreau, grenadine, passionfruit syrup, vanilla syrup, lemon juice and pineapple), a real holiday feeling in a glass, taking you straight to a tropical beach. The Sloe gin crush (Plymouth sloe gin, Chase Elderflower, lemon juice, Monin passionfruit eand fresh passionfruit) was a lovely discovery too - sharp edges, alternating between sweetness and tanginess, putting a smile on your face straight away. Duly noted for next time: orange and cinnamon Manhattan, black forest martini, violet and mint crush…Just treat yourself to some rustic artisan bread, still steaming at heart, to be dipped in tasty olive oil and fruity marinated olives. Go on, you know you want to…
For the starters, I do have to put special stars for the Thai fishcakes. Such a sweet, flavoured salmon, fresh herbs, gorgeous mashed potatoes and a sweet chilli sauce to wrap it all. Perfectly cooked, not oily at all, a different association at each forkful. If you are more of a carnivorous, try the carpaccio. Thin almost floral slices, top quality. Won’t last more than a few minutes, you will have to remember to chew! Just a slight drizzle of olive oil, some watercress salad with Stilton crumbs to balance it.
On the meat side, this is serious business. ever the steak frites is amazing - pink, juicy, sizzled on a pan, cooked with a little fat to add to the taste and tenderness. The chips are home made, hand cut, fluffy inside, totally addictive. And with the juice, ah, no one would even think of ketchup. We matched it to a glass of Operetto Garganega, a crisp pinot grigio (yes, you can have white wine with red meat and yes, it goes very nicely too if you choose carefully) with hints of green apple, honeysuckle, jasmine, citrus…My personal best? The posh surf and turf. Now, to a French person, the idea of meat and seafood in the same plate is very strange. But ah, this is di-vi-ne. The delicacy of the sirloin, the refinement of the scallops, this salted parsley butter to link it all, the classy note of the crayfish, the melt-in-the-mouth shrimps… Simply a must. Try this with a glass of Kent rosé. The Chapel Down English Rose is very surprising, very romantic, like a blooming orchard: cherry, juicy berries. Very poetic indeed.For dessert - stay British. I usually am not so much a fan of the sticky toffee pudding, but this one is very wow. The cake is soaked with the caramel, not too intense, almost creamy, definitely a touch of butter. A rich, to die for conclusion. Do not share. It would only be a race for the last spoonful.
The cocktails menu includes a “And so to bed”, an irresistible invitation! The Jaffa Cake really is a liquid version of the biscuit – orange liqueur, dark chocolate Mozart liqueur, whipped cream for a velvety finish. Luxurious with long lasting notes. The Parma Violet is similarly confusing, have they dissolved the candy in it? But not, it is a skill indeed - vodka, violet liqueur, lemon juice, cranberry juice. A lovely sharp angle, a beautiful floral note dancing on the palate.
Verdict? One of these addresses that fits everyone. Romantic couples. Celebrations. Parties. Friends gathering. Business meeting. Even families, there is a kids menu. The quality is simply fantastic. I love that the simpleness of it - honest tastes, no covering with sauces and too many sides on the plate. Just focusing on 2-3 tastes, getting them to perfection. The only problem? You want to taste it all and keep looking at the plates going by. You know, for next time. how about we go back tomorrow, mmmh?
The Grill on the market
2-3 West Smithfield
City of London