I regularly walk down Curtain Road and recently spied an intriguing little place, always boasting a full house whenever I passed by. But with no signage to search online for I’ve had no idea what the crowds were all about, until last Saturday when I visited where I now know to be Rök Smokehouse.
Located next door to a well known and busy Saturday night boozer, Rök Smokehouse has a contrastingly unassuming charm. With its painted blue exterior and wide windows my curiosity is sparked as I take a glimpse through a picture frame of diners conversing and enjoying the food in front of them. The interior grasps upon the characteristically Scandinavian with chic European undertones; its heavy use of wood materials in all shades of dark, mahogany and light is complemented by the pure white walls running through the narrow venue, lit with exposed bulbs dangling from the high ceiling.
The interior and exterior decor work fluidly to project Northern European simplicity in a most welcoming and serene form. The kitchen runs with the same concept, with the use of traditional techniques - adorning a charcoal grill in the back - to prepare a range of fresh seasonal dishes. The medium high tables placed spaciously around the room meant that even when all tables were occupied - which was the case most of the night - we still had plenty of room to enjoy the evening and remained able to hear each other. The buzz of the full yet easy-going venue only enhanced the atmosphere; fuelling happy chatter with each other and the lovely team who looked after us but also joined in conversation with ease.
Food and Drink
Obviously having had a sneaky online preview of the sample menu earlier on, I had a good idea of what I’d be ordering. Starting off with an Espresso Martini we were soon brought over a mix of pickled cucumber, cabbages, gherkins and artichoke - a Scandinavian delicacy and a must have to nibble on at Rök Smokehouse.
For starters, I chose the Nduja scotch quails egg with dijon mayonnaise (£3.50), which prepared me for how delicious my main course was. The Duck with ligonberry bacon jam (£16) was cooked to a medium pink and tender perfection with crisp charcoaled skin. The sides are a dish on their own; Burnt sweet potato with horseradish creme fraiche (£5), Blackened cabbage with nori rice, macadamia & västerbottensost (£6) and Cauliflower cheese with almond and beef dust (£6). After requiring a little rest we were escorted to Rök Smokehouse’s 2-week old cocktail bar 'Below the Smoke' - an ingenious collaboration with The Talented Mr Fox. There we sat tucked away in a little den enjoying our desserts Lost bread with white chocolate ice cream & blood orange rhubarb jam (£6) and an unusual liquid concoction by the name of Seasonal Bones; a mix of distilled broth, whisky and vermouth.
There is quite simply nothing to compare this establishment to; it is what most venues in London strive to achieve - an inventive and undeniably unique set-up. So if you truly want a new experience, trying a new cuisine in a venue that merits individuality, Rök Smokehouse is waiting for you.