The Instagram Paradigm
This review requires me to start with a millennial warning: the pictures I took (see below) at Smoking Goat Thai Bar & Grill in Shoreditch, London, are not Instagram-worthy. Stop reading now if you are expecting perfectly lit and composed snaps of beautiful food, untouched and magnificent in all of their Instagram perfection.
The reasons I failed at the most essential of millennial tasks are varied. We dropped in to Smoking Goat Bar on Shoreditch High Street (smack-bang in the center of one of London’s coolest and tastiest neighborhoods) on a late-night whim, so the lights were dimmed too low to take any decent pictures. I was hungry, and forgot to take a snap before I dug in. And lastly, my fingers were covered in what is arguably the best fried chicken condiment this side of the Channel.
This was the third time I visited Smoking Goat that week. This wasn’t a case of very thorough reviewing, but rather of an overzealous passion for their Chilli Fish Sauce Wings. They are just THAT good. Sticky, sweet, with a pungent hit of fish sauce, these wings are very hot and unbelievably crispy, and available only if the meat suppliers have delivered their produce fresh that morning. Having had them for lunch at the start of the week, we went back for more mid-week and struck out as their morning delivery hadn’t been made on time (according to our waiter). I appreciate this kind of honesty: like any restaurant, Smoking Goat Bar is reliant on their suppliers, and I prefer knowing that the products on my plate are the freshest available rather than days old for the sake of always running the full menu. We were happy to drop in again later that week, if just to get our sticky fingers on another round of those soul-saving chicken morsels.
The rest of the menu features similarly punchy flavors. Northern Thai Style Duck Laab (laab being a Laotian minced meat salad, of sorts) is flavorful and spicy, best eaten with a generous helping of the Lardo Fried Rice, which is rich enough to soothe the palate, and unassuming enough to soak up some of the heat of the laab. The Pork Fat Fried Eggs with Black Vinegar & Chilies make grateful use of the malt notes of the vinegar, with a generous sprinkling of fresh coriander over the top to balance out the dish. The Stir Fried Cornish Greens & Soy is the perfect marriage between West and East: crunchy greens cooked just right sit within a salty soy concoction, and make the whole meal feel more balanced on the veggie count.
Even if it is in one of the most expensive cities in the world, it sometimes feels like you are precariously perched on some corner benches in a busy Bangkok dive-bar. All of the dishes are served up, without pretense, on plastic plates; cutlery is restricted to forks and Asian soup ladles only (perhaps to spoon up the rest of that Chili Fish Sauce after the wings have been finished); the music is load. Service is prompt, and straightforward.
Before You Go
Smoking Goat comes with only one warning. Expect the heat to be full-on. At times, the dishes are so spicy you’d be forgiven for thinking the chef accidentally slipped while adding the chilies. But I will give them to benefit of the doubt, and assume they intend for their heat to smack you around a bit. If you are on board with it, the firm hits of chili throughout the meal will burn off some of those mid-week blues. Or just have three helpings of the Wings, and the world will seem all right again.Smoking Goat Bar & Grill serve Chili Fish Sauce Wings to save your soul Click To Tweet