olive's Boozy Lunch of the Week: Bird of Smithfield

We have joined forces with the lovely people at olive Magazine to bring you a spankin' new series about the best places to enjoy a boozy lunch in the capital.  The ultimate food porn.  olive is to food what BarChick it to booze so if you're as in to your sushi as you are your Sweet Manhattans you should probably check out their Facebook page.

Bird of Smithfield

The menu at Bird is textbook modern British. Crab on toast, cod and triple-cooked chips, pork belly, lamb chops with bubble and squeak, lemon posset – all the classics are there.  Nice, for sure, but is it all just a bit boring?

Then the starter arrives and it’s magic. Deep fried in breadcrumbs, served with a bitter leaf salad, poky green sauce and a scattering of wild flowers - how could pig’s cheek look so pretty? Even the salmon is a star: four fat treacle-cured slices, with pickled fennel and cucumber on the side.

Bird is chef Alan Bird, who was at The Ivy for over 15 years. There the famous shepherd’s pie is £17. 75. At Bird Alan’s shepherd’s pie is £12. It is deeply meaty, topped with sworls of mash, comes with a cute jug of gravy (why are restaurants usually so mean with gravy?) and a small pot of peas. Rhubarb and Bird’s custard trifle (d’you see what he did there) gets top billing on the pudding menu but the highlight is Maldon sea salt caramel and Cru Virunga chocolate crackling pot, a coffee cup filled with salty sweetness and a rich caramel cream and served with mini cookies.

The room is brilliantly blokey.  There’s lots of herringbone, tweed in soothing grey tones and a beautiful retro light-fitting in the centre of the room. Prices aren’t rip-off, either.  There’s a charge of £2 for bread and water but that’s for a whole loaf of sourdough and filtered water is refilled constantly.

And the coffee’s from Caravan, the gorgeous roastery at nearby Exmouth market.  If only simple was always this good.

WHEN TO GO - 7pm for an early supper – it’s heaving after 9pm, but you can always retire to one of the three bars in the same building

WHO TO TAKE - your parents. They’ll love the classic menu and tweed-waist coated waiting staff.

WHAT NOT TO MISS - the rooftop bar overlooking Smithfields. There are pink flamingos.