There are waves of cuisine fashion in London, recently Peruvian has been popular, and now there’s another trend for Thai. Smoking Goat is the latest “it” venue, found at the unpopular end of Denmark Street, it is characterised by the long queue of hipsters waiting outside. Noisy, crowded and dark, you have to be really keen to try the food to put up with the chaotic conditions. The team have recently extended opening hours so you can eat from 5pm, and having arrived at 6pm we were safely in our seats when the 6.30 rush came. We were rubbing shoulders with a pair of chefs who were gratefully enjoying every plate whilst critiquing the latest London restaurant openings. One of them was talking excitedly about his soon-to-open Middle Eastern restaurant – who knows maybe this will be the next cuisine to catch on.
Smoking Goat offers sticky, spicy and saucy barbecued meat and fish, impossible to eat with any dignity but absolutely, addictively delicious. Having researched the critics’ favourites before arriving, I knew what I wanted without even seeing the menu. We started with the unmissable Fish Sauce Wings and the Coal Roast Aubergine Salad; priced at £6 each, these are small plates which can act as starters. Coated thickly in a crispy aromatic casing, the chicken wings were our favourite dish of the night. The meat inside was tender and succulent while the outer layer was cooked to crunchy perfection, the pile of wings were then slathered in sticky sweet sauce. The gloopy, gooey, soft-baked aubergine was a delight, subtly flavoured and dressed with herbs, I was appreciative to have a break from the meat feast.
For main course, diners only have three choices to ponder over, of which the Whole Cornish Chilli Crab with aromatic herbs, roasted chilli, palm sugar, fresh coconut cream, hot mint and salted curry leaves is fast becoming the restaurant speciality and blogger favourite. Arriving fully shelled in a bowl coated in sauce you will be given an assortment of tools and then be expected to just get on with it! My friend looked up slightly despairingly after five minutes of cracking, poking and licking. Needless to say he kept going for a while longer, addicted to the spiced coconut goodness and fleshy crab meat. I opted for the Slow Roast Duck Legs, though Smoked Lamb Ribs only narrowly missed out. The duck was slightly dry but with a lovely crispy edge, you can dunk it in the jaew dipping sauce for a bit of moisture and a kick of spice.
The drinks menu is definitely not an afterthought with a fine selection of unique craft beers and intelligent wine choices. Smoking Goat doesn’t do desserts, there is thankfully no over-sweet sticky rice and mango here, and you shouldn’t need it after the savoury feast.
When I got home I stank of spice and still felt vaguely sticky… this is not a restaurant for the faint-hearted but boy does the food taste good. My advice? Once you have been designated a table, try to sit back and go with the flow, chances are in two weeks time it will be even more impossible to get a table at London’s new Thai concept, so enjoy the mayhem while you are in the midst of it.
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