I’m always on a quest to visit restaurants serving seafood, (ok this fact you already knew about FoodieClaire) so I jumped at the opportunity to visit Blackhouse – The Grill on the Market Restaurant in Smithfields, London. I had been sent an email about their Lobster Festival, which has been running throughout the month of March. I thought it would be a great excuse to visit my first restaurant in Smithfields – an area I previously associated with viewing from the confines of a black cab en route to client meetings back in my agency days.
The timing was perfect as Chanelle had decided that she was going to stop being boring during throughout weekdays in 2013 and start partying instead. Well we weren’t quite having a party – but eating seafood does kind of get us excited…
It was a bit of a b!tch to find the restaurant. Largely because we are blind. Well I was wearing my glasses but Chanelle wasn’t and I had to be the eyes looking for the restaurant! We walked straight past it as the sign is on the front of the restaurant and not overly visible unless you’re on the other side of the road. A phone call and Google map check later we found ourselves in the warm entrance of The Grill on the Market.
It was 7.03pm. I was worried as I knew Happy Hour had finished at 7pm. I fluttered my eyelashes and gave my most winning smile. I asked the lovely gentleman that had greeted us if he would let us have two drinks at happy hour prices as we’d just spent a while looking for the restaurant and we were also cold. He replied “well I’m the barman – so yes.”
L: Elderflower Gin Martini R: Bloody Mary (of course! and I got my celery!)
The front bar area of the restaurant is lovely. Closed off from the rest of the restaurant and great for drinking with friends. You have a choice of sitting in wooden booths, at the bar, or on comfy sofas. There are also a couple of small tables at the front of the restaurant but I imagine these are used whilst diners enjoy a drink waiting for their table to be ready. There was a piano to the side of the bar – our barman told me that a pianist would be starting shortly.
Our booking was at 7.15 and when the time arrived we were seated. The seating area in the restaurant is amazing. A mixture of booths and circular seating with tables making the setting very discreet and perfect for groups. There were quite a few of these circular table settings dotted about – yet the space was still vast. As we were seated, the music started. Lovely easy music and adaptations of a few memorable favourites such as Stereophonics, Maroon 5 and Michael Jackson.
Despite all of the amazing food choices on the menu we both stuck to our guns as we both had our heart set on the lobster with thermidor sauce. The fantastic offering that Blackhouse were promoting for the lobster festival was whole lobster, grilled to perfection served with home cut chips and a choice of thermidor sauce or garlic butter for – wait for it – £17.50. Can you believe that? A WHOLE lobster for £17.50. If I were anywhere else I would think this price to be a bit fishy (sorry just couldn’t resist) but to be served this sort of seafood at a high end restaurant at such a cracking (ok ok I promise no more puns) price is fantastic. So now for the glorified food porn pics. Here’s what we ate.
Shockingly, Chanelle and I stepped outside of the box – there were oysters on the starter menu – oh yes there were – and you know us. We ALWAYS order oysters – but today we were so overwhelmed with the various choices on the menu and fancied trying something different so I had the carpaccio – which was served with a horseradish drizzle lining the plate and olive oil drizzled over. Chanelle had the duck spring rolls – which if had anywhere else would have probably not lived up to much but all the effort was put in to ensure this was a succulent, non oily starter and tasted extremely flavoursome accompanied by a hoi sin dip.
Lobster followed – the piece du resistance. The thermidor sauce was creamy and rich, the lobster so tender it didn’t need any prying to be lifted from its shell. The quantities were perfect. A whole lobster and the serving of chips was perfect for one person. The chips were extremely tasty – skins left on – fantastic, still hot when they arrived at our table and flavoursome throughout. I’m all too disappointed when chips are cooled down and suddenly the flavour leaves and they are chewy and tough to eat. This wasn’t the case here. We had french beans and petit pois to accompany our mains.
A bit of an ironic term – we did not opt for a sweet dessert. We had the cheese and fruit board – well what else did you expect us to have?! The cheese board was very nice – I would have preferred an onion marmalade or quince (although quince would have probably only gone with the hard cheese). After a couple of mouthfuls I decided I preferred eating without the relish and Chanelle had not tried it at all. Alas – the selection of cheeses were great. Brie, Stilton and Manchego.
I loved the “uniform” the waiters and waitresses were in. Just simple shirts and waist aprons. It made them come across as friendly and approachable (even though their demeanour also presented this) I don’t like stuffy staff. Many high end restaurants seem to think that’s required to give some sort of status – not true.
If you’re thinking of visiting Blackhouse to take advantage of their Lobster festival offer – you haven’t got much time – the festival and offer ends on 30th March 2013.The Grill on the Market | Blackhouse Grill 2-3 West Smithfield, London, EC1A 9JX 020 7246 0900 www.blackhouse.uk.com/restaurant/london-smithfield/
The Lobster Festival is running at The Grill on the Market, Smithfield from Monday 4th – Saturday 30th March.
Whole lobsters come with hand-cut chips either grilled with garlic butter or Thermidor for £17.50
FoodieClaire thanks Roche Communications for the invite.
Love FoodieClaire x