"Who is that man?" I ask Miss America pointing at the rather eclectic decor in The Smokehouse. There are large tree branches and at the end of the branch there's a picture of a man in an open chambray shirt in a 70s style pose and picture. In the corner there are piles of vintage Playboys and in the centre of the room there's a step ladder with old fashioned tennis rackets. Ladders are omnipresent for some inexplicable reason. There's also a suitcase of San Pellegrino and a vintage Singer sewing machine. We're not quite sure what any of it has to do with the Smokehouse and when we ask the waitress, she doesn't seem to know either.
Random 70's era ad clipped to ladder
The menu is one page long and is comprised of smoked fish and seafood in various forms. There are four non smoked items on the next page which are beef and vegetarian options but we figure since we're here, we may as well go smoked all the way. There is no BYO here so Queen Viv and Miss America put away their bottles.
Abalone and smoked scallops with orange, snow pea and radish salad $17.50
We start with the abalone and smoked scallops with salad. My first reaction is that it's rather...brief. Three smoked scallops sit on a long leaf shaped plate and at one end is an orange, snowpea and radish shoot salad with some strips of abalone. There are three scallops and three strips of abalone. The taste is quite good, the scallops having a soft, juicy texture but again it's not what we would consider particularly good value for money given the size.
Soft shell crab smoked and fried with green papaya salad $17.50
The soft shell crab comes out whole, looking petrified (as in fossilized rather than scared) and oddly tastes like potato chips. Don't ask me how or why but it does. The green papaya salad though is missing certain crucial flavours and none of us go for this as it is very unbalanced and lacking flavour.
Smoked salmon, cod and leek pie $25
The pie on the other hand smells lovely and buttery when set down on the table. It's filled with smoked salmon, cod and scallops in a white sauce. We all enjoy the buttery pastry and the creamy seafood. Miss America is particularly enamoured of this dish-I knew he would be as he loves pastry.
Crisp skinned salmon belly slowly smoked with caramelised eschallots and creamed sweet potato $27
We all like the lightly smoked salmon belly with sweet eschallots and sweet potato mash. We think that they have sweetened regular potato, either that or it's white sweet potato (and it's very dark so it's hard to tell by sight).
Double smoked whole Rainbow trout with preserved lime relish $28
The double smoked whole Rainbow trout comes out glossy skinned and Queen Viv takes to it with a fork and knife to debone it. It's double smoked so it is indeed heavy on the smoke. It needs a salad to go with it and we feel that it should have come with one. I need something to break it up and they give us some chilli aioli which helps. I can't imagine one person eating all of this in one sitting though unless they are a huge smoked fish fan as it's sizeable indeed.
Asparagus, pickled fennel and watercress with orange dressing and candied walnuts $7
This salad came with a lovely slightly sweet dressing courtesy of the orange and was a definite hit with the table.
Shoestring fries $6
"Um, you must check out the bathroom" I say to my intrepid dining companions Queen Viv, Miss America and Mr NQN. We're seated next to the bar and we find that the whole evening, there has been the occasional waft of smoked food followed by the waft of vanilla so curious I go into the bathroom and sure enough, there are strongly scented vanilla aromatherapy reeds as well as numerous tealights. I look around curiously. There is a step ladder with a picture of two bare bottoms pegged to it. There is also a vase with a large feather duster sprouting out through the top. Only Queen Viv is brave and curious enough to go in and she returns laughing utterly puzzled by the bathroom.
Our waitress brings us a rolled up scroll which has the dessert menu options and we feel like we're a bit in a pirate movie. The desserts don't look as enticing and there is wine to be drunk at our place so we move on still no wiser as to the decor.
So tell me Dear Reader, any theories as to the decor here?
Psssst! I was featured on the lovely Bridget's blog here in her Just One Question Series where she asks me What inspired you to blog about food?. Last year she featured me in a Top 10 Female Food Bloggers you need to follow on twitter. Love her work and she cooks an amazing breakfast too!
_Queen Viv models one of the hats that are laying around (or is it a shower cap?)
204 Devonshire St, Surry Hills NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9699 1155