When Smoking Goat Soho was still about, you would often find me there chowing down on their fish sauce wings, Massaman short rib curry and prized Tamworth cuts fired over charcoal. Oh and those sticky lamb ribs were a model of their own. I’d always walk out stinking of bonfire but wreaking of happiness. Chef and restaurateur, Ben Chapman opens the second Smoking Goat Bar during October 2017 in Shoreditch on Redchurch Street where the White Horse used to be. Yes, the famous White Horse where patrons would hear their pound coins clink into the bottom of pint glasses clutched by strippers, who would in turn flash their growlers. But Chapman still has his thumb prints on the Soho food circuit with cult restaurant Kiln on Brewer Street. That review can be seen by clicking here. He can’t put a foot wrong there in my experience. Smoking Goat Bar is a fresh angle on samey-samey overpriced, over designed, hyped up restaurants in our City in my humblest. It’s influenced by the late night canteens of Bangkok where you can get wok-cooked delights turbo-charged with Massaman spices, lemon grass, galangal, baby garlic, soy-braising and of course lashings of umami laden fish sauce. All can be glugged down with ice cold beer of course. Sounds like heaven doesn’t it?
The inside is just like the original, edgy, cosy and of course a record player features. It’s a beautiful situation to the unrelenting cold on a December’s night. Even better washed down with Beaver Town Neck Oil.
Chilli fish sauce wings £7 come with a tonsil echoing crunch that’s simply addictive. I’m not sure if they are triple cooked, but the result is indicative of it from the way the flesh just sides off the bone. The wings get a good soaking in fish sauce caramel, red chilli that I wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley alone, shallots and strident coriander stops the whole business from being cloying. I dredged every crispy morsel into the sticky sauce, loving the different textures that the wing parts give. My pro tip would be to run clumps of sticky rice into the sauce. Thank me later.
Smokey Northern Thai style brisket sausage with hot mint £5.50 is also joyous. They’e full of coarsely chopped flesh perfumed with smokey aromatics.
Barbecue Tamworth skewers are hunks of pork with an intensity of flavour and uncommon tension. In between each piece of protein are melting pieces of skilfully cut fat to keep the proceedings moist. It’s a lot of drama for £1.60 a stick.
Jungle style chicken livers £6.50 were exceptionally well made. The theme of wok seared smokiness continues here, with fresh and blackened dried chillies and beansprouts for crunch. Plenty of soy and fish sauce give their salty punch. Saw tooth herbs which are like coriander’s older, broad-shouldered cousin gives its nasal clearing fragrance.
Northern Thai style duck larb £6.80 is a festival of minced of things super charged with crushed spices, sliced shallots, lemon grass, fish sauce and the crunch of toasted rice. It’s a dish that gets me het up for sure. Order it with rice.
Speaking of rice, the lardo fried rice £3.80 is a banger. The same fiery wok sears the ingredients to make its point of how wok cooking should be. The sweet peppers make you feel like there are health benefits to the dish as to the little baby garlic – it’s a meal in itself and all the better for it.
Grilled Cornish mackerel with turmeric curry £14 was probably the weakest link. I’m not sure if the dish was a duffer, it was just out shone by the rest of what was on offer.
The same goes for the laab spiced sardines £7. I love sardines generally but I found these ones over-powering.
Of course we ordered the pork fat fried eggs £3.80 with black vinegar, chillies and vampire slaying raw garlic slithers. It’s a dish that demands to e eaten with rice whilst sloshing down IPA.
After all that food we we’re literally at the point of undoing our top buttons and letting the love handles mushroom over our belts. What alarmed us though when the bill finally arrived after 30 minutes of waiting was that most of the items were in doubles when we had singles.
In the end our bill was changed so that we were only charged for the service, I assume it was from all the mishaps throughout the meal. More on that at the end.
Visit number two
Those barbecue Tamworth skewers £1.60 are unmissable.
As are the Northern Thai style brisket sausages. £5.50.
Fish sauce chilli wings £7 are notoriously good.
Yes please to the duck laab £6.80.
The jungle style stir fried chicken livers £6.50.
I noticed that with the laab fried rice, they have added a welcome salty-chilli kick of fish sauce and Thai bird’s eyes. It’s an acquired taste of sultry stench and heat that you could argue it’s superfluous to the rice since it’s already packing flavour.
The camera eats first don’t you know? #cameraeatsfirst
What was new this time was the barbecue goat shoulder £24 that get’s a good smothering of deeply aromatic massaman curry. The dish would easily feed two greedy sods, in our case three greedy sods. Throw in some lardo and sticky rice for a complete meal. It’s the kind of food that sends the message out to those wanting to be sustained over winter – “eat me and I’ll mother you for days”. It was arguably one of the most flavourful of the things we ate during the meal.
Smoked brisket ginger noodles with wild ginger £9.50 can easily be a meal in itself. One thing that you hear me talk about is how good they are with wok cookery here, these ribbon noodles with an assortment of vegetables are no exception.
Stir fried pak choi £5.50 as advertised on the menu is nothing of the sort, it’s probably more akin to cavelo nero. Nonetheless, the sweet soy it’s cooked in is like pure crack for me.
Jasmine rice £2 is perfect for soaking up all of the fiendishly delicious sauces.
I found out that during visit 3, Smoking Goat Bar is not only good for dinner, it’s good for lunch too.
Of course we have to commence proceedings with fiery fresh water melon and ancho chilli liquor cocktails £7.50. I’m a glutton for punishment.
Tamworth pork skewers seem to go down well with the boss.
You can see that I order the chilli fish sauce wings all the time as they are lick-the-plate-good. Don’t judge me for licking the plate as you’ll be doing the same.
Laab spiced mackerel £7 was an unusual one, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to eat it as a main or a as desert. It had this sugar lacquered skin that was crisp and crunchy, but sweet in an overt but alluring way.
The lardo fried rice is always mouth watering.
I doused mine in the remnants of fish sauce wings for extra salty-spicy tongue numbing pleasure.
Visit number four involved a boozy lunch which can be easily done here with the rarer brews they have on tap, bespoke cocktails and wine list.
I could easily sit here for the afternoon, untether myself from technology and eat chicken wings until they kick me out.
The duck laab is also a stalwart dish.
We went for the brisket Khao Soi Northern Thai gravy noodles £7.60 which are available from 10am. The murky brown liquid was broken up with the green of coriander and squeaky green beans. In typical Thai curry style, it’s accented with turmeric, ginger and broad brush strokes of garlic. I found it very comforting and very instant noodlely.
The smoked beef sausage and fried egg roti £5.70 was another brunch menu item. It was ok, but there would be no love loss if it disappeared from the menu.
Cornish greens are different and compelling every time I come here.
Curry saffron eggs £6.40 was another brunch item that was easily forgettable. It seemed act like an element of a dish than a dish in its entirety, something was missing.
The melancholy chops of our megrim sole was pepped up with lip numbing orange nahm jim sauce £18. It was fiddly but rewarding to chow down on.
Visit number 5…
There is a reason why they have kept these as a regular on the menu. Go and try them for yourself.
The wings always come in a varying degree of heat, size, but their big gesture of delicious remains undimmed.
“Som tum” £7.50 is a salad of green papaya and heritage carrot, of course it won’t be Thai without a mound of chillis. It acts as a palate cleanser and palate basher in a good way of course.
Lardo fried rice £5.50 is another positive perk of the regulars on the menu.
Have I drummed it into you enough that duck laab is unmissable?
Cornish greens are kale this time, I’ve never swooned so much over greens.
Visit number 6..
I don’t need to tell you to order the BBQ Tamworth skewer £1.60 do I?
Or the chilli fish sauce wings £7.50 for that matter
Northern Thai style lamb laab £8
The stir fried Cornish greens and soy £5.50
The point of difference of this meal was the smoked brisket and bone marrow Massaman curry £14.50. As you can see, it’s served in a rustic looking wide lipped pan – what was inside was a spice charged coconut liquor with enough heat to make your tongue tingle. It’s clever work too by adding a smoked component into the brisket which brings another layer of flavour. What we did was scoop the marrow into the sauce from the bandsaw’d bone for more lusciousness.
The lardo fried rice £5.50
Visit number 7
The Makassar style barbecue mutton skewers £2.40. Makassar is in the South Sulawesi province of Indonesia did you know? And how did they taste? Really nice.
The BBQ Tamworth skewers £1.60 and fish sauce wings in all their majesty £7.50
The “som tum” papaya salad £7.80 with heritage carrots and ring sting inducing amounts of red chilli.
Fried whiting £10.50 came with the umami funk of fermented soy bean, I’d say the flavours are inline with the restaurants mantra of delivering big-fisted flavours.
Here are the jungle style stir fried chicken livers £9.20. If you like wok-licked offal fully festooned with green pepper corns, shallots, galangal. lemon grass, chillis and coriander then order this. It’s not the prettiest thing to look at, but none of the dishes are here, but I can earnestly say it’s one of the most flavour packed things to eat here. My lunch buddy didn’t touch it, I gobbled the lot.
The stir fried Cornish greens £5.50
Lardo fried rice £5.50? Yes please
The sticky rice £1.25 with all it’s gummy texture is fantastic sponge to dispose of any residue sauces. No Thai meal is complete without it.
When did I go? Dec 17, Mar 18 x2, May 18, Dec 18, Aug 19, Dec 19.
The damage: Expect to pay £25/45 per head with drinks
The good: Well that concludes my love story of the Smoking Goat Bar from my seven visits which will invariably go up post lockdown. If I haven’t drummed home that I like the place then I’ll dedicate more words to it: What experienced were hugely compelling broad shouldered flavours from Thailand that are gutsy and full of vigour – most things deliver on their promise and have summoned me like a mistress in the night. Unmissable things are the fish sauce wings, laab, lardo fried rice, Cornish greens, massaman curries and the smoked brisket ginger noodles which seemed to have disappeared now which they ought to bring back.
The bad: The bumpy service during our first visit meant being ignored for around 30 minutes before someone took our order, it took the same time for our drinks to arrive and the bill too which was riddled with mistakes. That’s 1.5hrs of waiting, and quite rightly I’ll whinge about it. But things have been running like clockwork since then. Oh The brunch I found a bit naff. It’s all forgivable.
Would I go again? Do I need to answer this?
Address: 64 Shoreditch High St, Hackney, London E1 6JJ