The second Smoking Goat and third restaurant from Ben Chapman opens on Friday this week. Like both the original “Goat,” as he calls it, and Kiln, his clay pot and charcoal bar in Soho, he has been inspired by the regional specialities of Thailand — especially, in this, his biggest site to date, the drinking snacks and comfort food served in the late-night canteens of Bangkok.
Eater London was given access to the site and a first-look at the brand new menu. Save for one “sweet” dish, the offer is split into three sections: “Drinking foods,” “Large plates,” and “Sides.” Its influence is much broader than the specific sour, northern Thai style at Kiln and is more true to tradition than the comparatively hybrid barbecue exercised at the original Smoking Goat. A number of dishes — in line with the food from Bangkok, where there are more Chinese and Malaysian influences — might be “sweeter” and more “comforting.” It is by design, not accident; Chapman and his head chef on the project, Ali Borer, have been planning for this opening all year.
Comfort food “Larger plates”
- The showpiece dish is, appropriately, a smoked, barbecued goat and turmeric massaman curry. It is priced at £12.50 and, with small plates and sides, might feed up to four. In other words, it’s good value. The rich, slow-grilled goat meat comes hidden beneath an aromatic sauce made from coconut husk, peanut, long red dry chilli, bay, white cardamom, cassia bark, cinnamon, clove and cumin. It is dressed with deep-fried lemongrass.
- Elsewhere in this section is the soya-braised chicken dish — a combination of Chinese and Thai flavours. The chefs went through over a dozen chickens from different producers before selecting this relatively small (just under a kilo), “flat-breasted” and “unwaxed” variety. The aim was to reduce the ratio of lean meat to bone and cartilage so as not to dry it during the braise. To further increase the gelatine stickiness, chicken feet are added. The “liquor,” deeply savoury, is replete with aromatics, ‘pa lo’ — a Thai variant of five spice, combining: star anise, white pepper, coriander root, cassia bark, garlic and ginger. It is finished with celery leaf.
- Seafood d’tom yum is an interpretation of the hot and sour Thai soup, which blurs the boundaries between a broth and a curry. Chapman calls it “ostensibly a galangal soup.” The chefs have had to use filtered water for clarity, to ensure that all the aromatic oils are incorporated: as well as galangal, lots of citrus, lots of chilli, lemongrass, makrut lime, and ‘pak chi farang’ or “foreigner’s parsley,” a variant on coriander. It is brimming with hot oil and seafood, which will change. When they can get them, velvet crabs will be a staple; at opening it might be a combination of monkfish, clams and mussels.
Drinking food “Aharn Glam Lao”
- Patrons of Kiln will be more familiar with the selection of small plates, designed to be shared, in this section. Larbs — dry aromatic fries, using the liver and heart of a duck; or heart from rare breed cattle in Cornwall (“Jungle style kra pow”), come after sticky, marinated and barbecued pork-and-pork-fat skewers (from on-site-butchered Tamworth pigs) or a northern-style Thai beef and turmeric sausage with hot mint. Elsewhere there are mussels, clams, oysters, raw mackerel and chicken wings. Ice cold beers and (watermelon) cooling cocktails are served alongside.
- Greens come from Good Earth Growers’ Sean O’Neil in Cornwall. Cavolo nero or kale, for example, is stir fried with fermented soy beans and doused in oyster sauce, fish sauce, and Thai garlic. Or, the set-to-be a must-order, lardo (from the pigs they take whole) egg fried rice, served with a wedge of lime and a hot nam prik chilli dip, to be added according to preference.
Queues are expected but bookings for parties of six or more are now being taken via Smoking Goat’s website.