Smoking Goat, Denmark Street

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Are you siting comfortably, this is an essay…. Last Thursday I had an education in Thai food. My knowledge of Thai food is dated and embarrassingly limited. Green and red curry and prawn crackers make up most of my knowledge. The rest is that basically everything else is either riddled with peanuts, which I loathe, or so spicy I will turn into a sweating lobster right there and then at the table. I’ve heard of Smoking Goat but never been as it’s one of those places I thought was always full to the brim and didn’t take reservations. Turns out, they do take reservations and lunch time, when it’s 32 degrees, in August, they aren’t full.

The bar was by far the best place to sit as you can see all the food coming out of the kitchen, gaze over your lunch companion’s shoulder to watch the spices being ground in the biggest pestle and mortar I’ve ever seen, oh and you can order another glass of wine at lightning speed (all to cool down the chilli effects, so purely medicinal you understand).

As I mentioned, I know NOTHING about this food so I picked randomly from the menu. We chose two starters and two mains, and a couple of other bits arrived too. The chicken wings had wafted passed me on their way to another table and the smell of them was just so o utrageously good I had to have them. I defy ANY of you to be able to resist the wings if you’ve smelt them just before ordering…. We also ordered the mackerel, and then the pork belly and duck breast from the main courses. A couple of beautiful scallops (Coal Roast Scallop Red Nahm Yum) arrived in front of us first which were – of course perfectly cooked, quite spicy but the mix of spices was cleverly done so that the delicate flavour of the scallops wasn’t lost at all.

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The mackerel (1/2 Cornish Mackerel with nahm prik pao) then arrived beautifully fresh, lounging lazily in a puddle of hot and sweet (but not sweet sweet) chilli sauce with a small blanket of coriander – we devoured that pretty quickly. And then the wings (Chilli Fish Sauce Wings). The wings.  I’ve never had anything like this. When they arrived all I could think was that they looked like caramelised banana I had as a child, the crunch on the batter was ever so slightly sweet like biting through something ever so slightly sugary – I know that sounds weird – but it was so good, right under the shiny crispy surface the batter was nice and thin leading to juicy perfectly cooked chicken. All this was sitting on a large blob of super-rich, gloriously sticky and mega spicy sauce that did, I’ll admit, turn my face into a glowing beacon of chilli-heat and leave me a little sweaty, but we did ask for the spicy sauce. Problem was (well, actually not a problem in the slightest) the sauce was so good and I clearly was making so much of a meal of this that the staff brought over an additional little pot of it to keep the saucy happiness going throughout the meal.

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Barbecue Chiang Mai Pork Belly with pickles, duck breast nahm prik with wild ginger and turmeric and khao phot smoked corn with salted coconut & chilli all arrived next and all got devoured pretty quickly. The duck breast blushing beautifully on the plate surrounded by lots of hot sauce was a winner with the fresh mint on top tempering the heat of the chillis perfectly for me. And the pork belly – of course was delicious, slowly cooked so falling apart to the lightest touch of a fork. In case you thought the corn was our only vegetable – we did also have the refreshing Som Tam Taeng which was a spicy cucumber salad. So there.

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It was suggested that we had a glass of Riesling with this heady mix of flavours. I don’t like Riesling – yes I’m sure it’s lovely, but it’s just not really my thing and I wasn’t planning on wasting a good Thursday lunch opportunity for a glass of wine on a Riesling. So I reluctantly agreed to be proved wrong and taste a French white and then Riesling with the food and; whaddaya know…. I was wrong. The French wine didn’t work with the food we’d chosen and the Riesling was so good that we had to have another glass!!

I’ve written so much, you’re doing well if you’ve made it this far. But to summarise; Smoking Goat is bloody marvellous. On a hot sunny afternoon, it will be a bit sweaty if you hit the chillis. Sorry, there’s no ladylike way of putting it. But it’s so worth it. Ridiculously good.

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