Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just the Place to Flog a Few Secrets; WINE LIST

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just the Place to Flog a Few Secrets; WINE LIST

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW JEFFORD

INEEDED a drink on reaching Smithy's, just to recover from the shock of its spectacular geographical obscurity. Unless you include pigeons, passing trade will amount to no more than five lost souls a year; if any military attachE is looking for somewhere discreet to take delivery of a few secrets, Smithys is the spot.

Shockingly, it was half-full at lunchtime. Where do they all come from?

And what are they coming to? A pub, a bar, a wine bar or a restaurant? The wooden cobbles on the floor and the horse ramp leading to the former stabling overhead gives the bar area a pubby feel; you can drink London Pride and Hoegaarden if you want.

The walls, meanwhile, are covered in blackboards listing bin-end wines of relative grandeur though uncertain storage, a legacy of the previous owners-which partner Hugo Usher is clearingto make way for his own finds.

Stroll through the arch and you'll find yourself in a pleasantly plain bar environment, with tables on a raised area constituting a restaurant zone within the bar. It doesn't, of course, matter much what it is, provided it works, which, thanks to smiling and nimble waitresses, relatively quiet background music and the food described above by Charles Campion, it does.

Usher says his biggest wine problem is trying to wean evening drinkers off the house red and white (both from France, and only pound sterling10.50 a bottle, without any obligatory service charge added to your bill). Go on, Leeke Street lushes, try something different: there are 30 or more of both colours to chose from.

I began with a glass of the 2001 Viognier from GErard Bertrand, though not without mild foreboding. This grape variety, touted as the new Chardonnay, can produce wines with the scent of a gardenia-lover's conservatory and the unctuous weight of rendered pork fat. …

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