The scene Though situated in one of London’s most famous locales – the 800-year-old Smithfield’s meat market – this restaurant is oddly difficult to find, cloaked in a lightless patch of West Smithfield.
Still, that’s not stopped a rowdy crowd of suits seeking it out for post-work tipples.
Fight through them, however, and you’ll find a much calmer dining area towards the back, with sleek leather booths, dark woods, low lighting and the odd deer’s head adorning the wall.
The grub Appropriately enough for the location, this place is big on beef, though it also packs an impressive range of seafood for the coyer carnivore (the grilled lobster weighs in at a not-too-awful £35).
The Grill’s ethos is “solid, honest, proper food”, so the bells and whistles – or dry ice and foams – are lacking, with quality preferred over quirks.
My date starts with a baby scallop, garlic and bacon salad, which is perfectly competent, although the same cannot be said for my duck egg with asparagus soldiers.
When it first comes out, the yolk has been cooked hard, defeating the point of the dish – the soldiers are meant to be dipped into a rich, runny yolk.
Our waitress notices immediately – before I’ve had time to raise a hand – and whisks it away, all apologies. A second turns up and this time is undercooked.
The white of the egg remains a snotty gloop, and I resolve to give up rather than make a fuss.
Throughout the meal, our waitress is brilliant – personable and well-informed about the menu, she fills me with enthusiasm about my forthcoming rib eye. If only the kitchen could live up to the promise out front.
Ordered medium-rare, the steak is pink but not juicy; it leaks nothing, and that includes flavour.
Quite an achievement for a cut that should be infused with melted fat.
A seriously superior sticky toffee pudding for dessert scores a consolation goal.
A shame that what went before was unremarkable.
Behind the bar Wine from £4/ £15 per glass/ bottle. Cocktails from £6.50.
Bill please Starters from £4.50; mains from £10.50; desserts from £3.75.
Verdict Great place and people, but the food doesn’t sing.
2-3 West Smithfield, EC1A 9JX
Tube | Farringdon