I loved the original Smoking Goat on Denmark Street in Soho. A small menu of Thai barbecue food and an even smaller dining room with vibes galore; it’s the sort of place you’re always guaranteed a good meal.
Owner Ben Chapman then opens Kiln, also in Soho, which sees counter seats overlooking a kitchen full of claypots producing more Thai dishes all of which lush enough to earn a Bib Gourmand in this year’s Michelin Guide. Again, it never lets you down.
His latest opening is a second Smoking Goat, this time in an old strip club in Shoreditch. The layout is pub-like with people seated at stools around the large central bar. We’re in a bit at the back which is super dark and romantic but if you’re of a certain age, you’ll ned your phone torch to read the menu.
Barbecue Tamworth skewers (£1.60 for one) are so bloomin’ good I’d recommend ordering a few of them. Each chunk of expertly cooked pig is sandwiched between a piece of crisp fat which makes for a marvellous mouthful. Equally as special are spiced chicken heart skewers (£1.40 each) which are on the rare side but not tough or chewy.
Sweet, sticky, salty fish sauce wings (£6.80) are the perfect dish to go with a hoppy Beavertown Neck Oil. They come in an impossibly crisp batter.
And then it happens. BAM. One mouthful of the Northern style duck larb (£6.80) and my mouth fills with the hottest spice I’ve ever experienced. It’s epic. It’s euphoric. It’s slightly painful. Larb is a chopped pork salad from Northern Thailand and I’m guessing the intense spice keeps things authentic but innocent little tastebuds like mine struggle to recover from such a beating.
Still spicy but tangy with it is a giant bowl of D’Tom Yam (£9.50) which is filled with wild mussels and a special kind of crab called Velvet Crab (caught in Cornwall) which is intensely sweet. It’s the kind of spicing I love; hot enough to get the lips tingling and bring on a sweaty brow but not so hot you have to admit defeat.
Smoked brisket drunken noodles (£13.50) sees thick rice noodles, all sticky and stodgy and perfect ‘drunk food’, soak up a rich beefy sauce and chunks of soft fatty beef.
A simple plate of rice (£3.80) is elevated to another level by the addition of lardo, or pork fat. I find myself keep going back to it even though I’m stuffed. Barbecue goat massaman (£12.50) has a sweet sauce which is a great one for the rice but the meat itself is tough and chewy which is a shame.
With no dessert on the menu, we go for a “Tray of Joy” which is a collection of sprits that Ben and the team have collected along the way. The sort of stuff you’d find at the back of your parent’s alcohol cabinet. It’s lots of fun and ensures we leave absolutely sozzled.
The food at the new Smoking Goat is exciting and vibrant. Sure, most of it will blow your head off, and at certain points I questioned whether I would ever recover from the spice, but my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Signs of a very good meal indeed.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant