Test Driving Bowling Bird - a bit of a Smithfield secret

prawnsTiger Prawns with lemongrass alioli, Chinese cabbage and chilli

So what do we need to know about Bowling Bird?

This Smithfield restaurant opened rather quietly back at the end of the summer. The folk behind it are John King (who many of you might recognise from his five years as GM of Goodman City) and Joseph Pelosi who comes here via Ottago which he owned in Glasgow's West End before spending seven years running a wine wholesale business in London. They're joined in the kitchen by Head Chef Emiliano Gallegos who was most recently at La Pulperia, an Argentinian steakhouse in the 11th arrondissement in Paris.

Where exactly is it?

On Cloth Fair, a tiny street that runs down the side of where Club Gascon is. Its previous occupant was Amico Bio. It's right next door to the oldest house in the City of London (bit of history for you there). The nearest tube is Barbican, but Farringdon's just as handy.

And where should we meet friends for a drink first?

We always end up going to the bar at St John where a glass of wine is going to be well priced and good. But an alternative spot for wine would be round the corner at Enoteca Rabezzana. St Bart's Brewery on Smithfield always does a good pint, and if it's cocktails you're after then Oriole under the market would be our best choice.

octopusChargrilled Octopus with Black Venus rice, cardamom & star anise

So what's the restaurant like?

It's a pretty small space - split into three dining rooms, one of which is a good space for groups towards the back of the building.

And the food?

They say they're running a "compact menu of seasonal produce complemented by an array of daily specials, which keeps things fresh in the kitchen". So there's no one style of cooking here - depends on the produce, vegetables and fruit are organic, all lamb and chicken is free range organic as are all the eggs and all fish are line-caught and from sustainable sources.

So dishes might range from a blue corn tostada with chicken and hibiscus to a rack of lamb with cumin and caraway crust - this is not a restaurant that wants to be pigeonholed. Starters begin at around £4 and mains kick off at £12.

From what we had, standout dishes included:

  • Tiger Prawns given an Asian twist with lemongrass alioli, Chinese cabbage and chilli.
  • Cote de boeuf with roasted banana shallots and potatoes - SUCH a good piece of meat, expertly cooked - a real pleasure to eat
  • Dessert was a perfectly sized (teeny, thank goodness) Manjari chocolate pot with blueberries and bee pollen.

What about the wine?

Given Joseph's background in the wine industry you'd expect a good list here and you wouldn't be disappointed. There are a few bottles under the £30 mark, but it might be worth pushing the boat out here a bit, if you can. We had a bottle of Valli Pinot Noir which was memorably good. And if you're a real wine lover, head for the section of fine and rare Californian and Washington wines.

steakStill thinking about this steak...

Overall thoughts

Tucked away on a side street in Smithfield, Bowling Bird probably doesn't get much footfall. But it's really worth seeking out. The team here have a lot of experience in the restaurant industry and deserve to do well. Which they will, with your custom. Go, and tell them we sent you.

Hot Dinners were invited to Bowling Bird. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 


More about Bowling Bird

Where is it? 44 Cloth Fair, London EC1A 7JQ

How to book? Call 020 7324 7742

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @bowling_bird