Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Liverpool’s newest restaurant along the top of the L1 Terrace, Smoke And Dough. Due to being so busy these days with my photography and other projects, I’ve kept the restaurant reviews to a minimum, however because this restaurant and the concept behind it was so unique, I didn’t want to miss out!
So what was so different?
Well the idea is that you have your own grill that’s sat in the centre of the table where all of your cooked dishes are placed for you as a table to share between you. Then when you run out, you can have anything replenished at no extra cost!
Initially I wasn’t sure if I’d be doing the cooking as the marketing suggested ‘you have your own grill’ – this was clearly explained once I sat down.
My first impressions as I entered the restaurant were that of delight. I felt I’d be receiving a premium meal with service to match, purely on the assumption of how the restaurant was decorated. I’d describe it as ‘contemporary with an industrial edge’ and it made me more excited to try the food itself and really enjoy the experience.
It was also very spacious and family friendly. There’s a beautifully long bar at the front, matched with a large seating area. If you wanted to come somewhere for a few drinks after a day’s shopping, this would be ideal, although you’d be missing out if you didn’t get to sample the food!
One element I particularly liked was that I didn’t have to spend an age choosing a starter. The menu is one price depending on the day/time of your visit, as well as an additional menu for vegans, and includes all of the starter selection and mains, subject to availability.
All of the starters were brought out at once which pretty much filled the entire table (and it was a large table!). The starters are known on the menu as ‘Course 1’ which consists of the Bread Basket, Charcuterie & Dips, as well as the Salads.
If I didn’t explain this is in more detail I’d be doing the restaurant a dis-service, because the bread basket isn’t just what it suggests! It’s a selection of focaccia flavours, garlic bread, pizza and cheese twists, so there’s definitely something for everyone! The garlic bread was a personal favourite. I always think it’s hard to find really good garlic bread, but they’ve got it!
If you’re anything like me you’ll want something to dip your bread with something, and once again there’s so much choice, including Hummus, Guacamole, Salsa, Olives and Balsamic & Olive Oil.
I think with so much choice it’s important that each dish is executed well, and I wasn’t disappointed. Particular favourites of mine included the hummus, which was so flavourful, and the tomato salsa, which was honestly one of the best salsas I’ve tasted.
A quick note on the service. It was excellent. Our waitress found the right balance between being friendly and helpful, without being around too much. Nothing was too much trouble, and she was a real example of how to work within the hospitality industry.
Once the main course arrived, it was almost overwhelming just how much food there was! I kept thinking to myself ‘Is it really £20 for all of this?!’
I won’t list all of the dishes from the main course because there’s around 13 different combinations of meats! From skewers, to lamb chops, to burgers, steaks and ribs. They’re cooked well with plenty of flavour. There are also a number of vegetarian and vegan options, which I also got to sample. Even though I’m not a vegetarian I still love this food, and although I was impressed, it would be good to see more choice on the menu.
Everything is cooked away from the table and presented on what I’d describe as a large hot plate at the centre of your table. This is very useful because there’s so much to get through, it keeps the food hot no matter how long you’re sat down for.
After doing my best to get through the dishes it was onto dessert. Despite being full, all those meats did make me want something sweet, and once again there was plenty of choice. I went for the Chocolate Bomb which was crispy on the outside with a smooth chocolate mousse inside, as well as chocolate soil around it with vanilla ice cream. All of this was £3.99 which again I thought was a huge steal!
Considering Smoke & Dough had only been open for a few days, I was mightily impressed with how much they’d got right. The concept, the food selection, the decor etc. Being different isn’t easy, especially in an already-crowded market, but its important to be bold with food culture, and I’m very excited for this restaurant and where it will go.
You could tell from the menu that there’s been a great deal of thought that’s gone into it. It’s the attention to detail and ability to receive feedback well, then act on that feedback is what separates an average restaurant from a great one. After the meal was over, the manager asked if he could get some immediate feedback on the whole experience, which I thought was testament to the restaurant and why Smoke and Dough will be successful here in Liverpool.