I love seafood. I don’t prepare it too often because I don’t have where to buy it fresh close to home, but I try to do so. My attention is often drawn to seafood plates when reading menus, or better yet, to seafood restaurants when choosing places to dine on special occasions.
This particular restaurant, The Smokehouse, has been in my radar for a long time, perhaps a year, but I didn’t find the perfect excuse to eat there until last Friday. My sister, Alvaro and I went there to celebrate his birthday (which was on Saturday), and it turned out to be quite an adventure.
On Fridays, Alvaro usually gets home from work at 7 or 7:15, so I booked a table for 8. Gladys went to my apartment, and we drank some beer and nibbled on crackers and olives while I finished preparing the birthday cake. It was getting late and there were no signs of the birthday boy. He called me around 7:30 telling me that he would finish working at 8. I called the restaurant and changed the reservation for 9, luckily with no problems. We waited until 8:30, and again, no signs of Alvaro. We left to catch the train and I sent him a message to tell him that we were on our way.
We arrived at 9 o’clock, and our table was being reset. We had plenty of time to check the restaurant’s decor, with old magazines, paintings and a piano, perfectly matching the dim lights (great for ambience, bad for shooting) and attentive service. We liked the vibe of the place, and started to check the menu. Alvaro called and told me he was leaving work. That meant he would be really late, so we began considering ordering an entrée but we didn’t want to spoil our appetite. After a few minutes of trying to avoid direct eye contact with the waitress, we ordered two glasses of the house rosé. They were huge, the wine was nice (tasted like a Jacob’s Creek), and lasted long after Alvaro arrived, at 9:40, after riding his bike back home in half the time he usually does, taking a shower, running to the station, getting on the train and running from Central station to the restaurant.
Gladys and I had already picked our plates but when we were ready to order, they were sold out. Gladys was not sure about what to order because she related smoked fish with raw fish, which she doesn’t like, but she followed the waitress advice and had the smoked salmon, cod and leek pie. I ordered a salad with smoked trout, endives, watercress and mandarins, which was in the specials menu. Alvaro ordered the ling fillet traditionally smoked with onion parsley sauce and a side of hand cut chips.
We waited a bit for the food to come (we were warned that the pie took 15 minutes to cook), so when it finally arrived we were absolutely starving and ate quite fast.
Gladys’ pie was delicious, the pastry was flaky and crunchy, and the filling had a wonderful taste and was perfectly seasoned.
Alvaro’s ling fillet also tasted wonderful, it had a side of mashed potatoes but the size of the dish wouldn’t have had been enough for the hungry hard worker that day, so ordering the chips (which were very nice, too) was a really wise move.
My salad was really good, too. Maybe lacked a bit of the “wow” factor of the other two dishes (it’s more predictable in a way) but the mix of flavours (crunchiness of the endive, slight bitterness of the watercress, sweetness of the mandarin wedges and the dressing, plus the smokiness of the fish) worked really well between them and with my second glass of house rosé.
We were ready for dessert and asked for the menu. It came printed in paper, rolled and tied with thin rope. After a quick look the three of us ordered the dessert tasting plate, ignoring our tacit agreement of ordering different desserts to share. We were given little antique spoons of different sizes and shapes. Each long plate had a cream cheese blueberry tartlet, a smoked macadamia baklava, a tapioca pudding with toffee and waffle discs and a chili vodka chocolate coated profiterole.
I ate them in that order, all of them were good but I liked the baklava more. Gladys liked the profiterole and the tapioca pudding more and found the baklava too sweet. We all agreed that the tartlet was the least “special”, but enjoyed the end of our meal.
We are definitely going back as soon as possible to order our first-choice dishes (we will arrive early this time).
PS: Only the last two pics were shot with the flash on because there were no many people left in the restaurant at that time.
204 Devonshire Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9699 1155