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Just like many of the well-to-do families in the Islington area, Highbury gastropub The Smokehouse was born out of good heritage. It’s from the small pub group Noble Inns, which runs some of London’s best regarded gastropubs including the nearby The Pig & Butcher and and The Princess of Shoreditch in, erm, Shoreditch.
If you’re familiar with either of those pubs, then you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect at The Smokehouse; just add a bit more fire, even more meat and an over-arching caveman approach to food. Well, at least that of a caveman with classic French training.
In terms of design, think pared back with lots of bare wood – including the obligatory gastropub standard sanded floorboards – and a whole side of the bar dedicated to being a proper “I’ll just have a pint, please” pub rather than the foodie affair across the way. Plenty of pints to choose from, too, by the way.
The menu manages to be primal and sophisticated at the same time; British at heart, while international in inspiration. It’s far from cheap; starters have doubled in price in the decade since we first visited, and now average around a tenner, with most mains over £20. You're paying for quality, mind. All ingredients are sourced from small, family businesses and ethical suppliers. At Smokehouse, the food is front an centre.
Outdoor image courtesy of Ewan Munro.