Ben Chapman has told Eater that he has confirmed the site for a new Smoking Goat. After Kiln, which opened last year, this will be his third restaurant. The first thing to note is that it will, by design, aim to be a bar first and foremost, albeit a bar that is also a restaurant. Here’s everything you need to know — specifically what’s different from the Soho location — about what will be this autumn’s most-talked about new opening.
When will it open
The team will get access to the site in early October; he says the restaurant is scheduled to open to the public towards the end of that month.
Where is it
In the ground-floor space that was occupied by the White Horse — the former strip club, whose closure has not been without controversy — at 64 Shoreditch High Street, at the intersection with Redchurch Street.
Why are they moving
The lease is up on the Denmark Street site. It is not closing any time soon, but neither will it be open forever, so new premises needed to be found. The two will remain open simultaneously at the outset.
What’s on the menu
There will only be three or four dishes on the menu — dishes around which the entire operation will be dedicated. And they will change, probably daily, according to the availability of specific ingredients and to better nurture his relationship with suppliers: taking what they have when it’s good, not demanding they get him what isn’t at its best.
He will aim to keep the prices keen as he’s learned, not surprisingly, that lower prices mean happier customers. He wants it to be accessible. The cost, he says, “should be in the idea,” and the customer shouldn’t foot the bill.
1. Tom Yum — the chilli laden, herbal soup enlivened by lime juice. Specifically, naam sai — the clear, “unapologetically sour and spicy,” variety. c£5 for a bowl.
2. Moo Yang — grilled pork, the Thai version of char siu. £7 / £8 for a sharing plate.
And there will always be one or two seafood dishes served alongside nam phrik — herbal chilli, made-to-order — relishes.
In northern Thailand, Chapman says he learnt “fresh, from scratch, to order — taste better.” He wants to create flavour by layering quality ingredients, rather than by adding lots of ingredients. “If you have good lime, good lemongrass, good galangal it means you don’t need to add 50 other ingredients,” Chapman says.
The seafood will be slow-grilled. Chapman is keen to emphasise that although some people may deem the fish to be ‘overcooked’, he believes that flavour trumps texture — the slow grilling ensures that the bones deepen the flavour of the flesh.
Chapman shared his sketchbook drawings of the site | Ben Chapman
And to drink
Beer. Cold beer. Chapman says that the main thing he wants from a beer is for it to be cold. Very cold. He’s therefore installing a proper freezer into the bar so that glassware can be kept frozen. There will also be cocktails whose base will be prepared by the kitchen — with the same fruits and herbs that will be used in the food. There will be three red and three white wines, from Austria and other up-and-coming regions. Natural and low-intervention styles, as at Kiln.
Who will be cooking
Ali Borer, who is currently head chef at Smoking Goat, will lead the kitchen team. He will also be a partner in the business. Chapman says, “Ali has a natural aptitude for fish.”
Until what time will it stay open
The original Smoking Goat was conceived as a bar and stayed open later than most central London restaurants. This will be no different. Chapman is toying with the idea of being open until 1.30am but shutting the doors at midnight.
How many will it seat
Chapman is planning for the restaurant to have in the region of 100 covers — his biggest restaurant yet. The original Smoking Goat has 65 covers; Kiln is 55. There will be a mix of counter seating and tables.
What about the design
Chapman entered the restaurant industry as a designer. So what the restaurant looks like and how it functions matters a great deal. “What I got frustrated with when designing restaurants was that people wanted me not to design the thing but something that looked like the thing,” he says.
So, atmosphere. But Chapman will also design the restaurant according to the specific needs of his chefs and the peculiarities of the dishes they’re being tasked to create.
“We’ll design a kitchen that is set up just to serve those dishes. Half the kitchen will be designed around Tom Yum,” he says. The best way to make Tom Yum taste how it’s supposed to is to cook the ingredients as hot as possible, so his burners will be installed to meet that specific challenge.
Check back for updates and details on the restaurant as they emerge.