Smithfields. Site of the famous meat market. The address alone sets the tone for this restaurant and The Grill on the Market naturally makes the most of this. But it’s not just a shrine to all things steak – it’s dedicated to the surf as well as the turf.
The décor at The Grill on the Market is tasteful and understated: Distressed pale wood and simple furnishings greet you in the bar, situated at the front of the restaurant, with a more luxurious feel in the main restaurant – including booths and large round tables to cosily get down to some serious eating.
And boy, can you eat here. The range on the menu at The Grill on the Market reflects somewhere marketing itself as solid, honest, proper food – salt and pepper chicken, calamari, garlic king prawns, chicken and sweetcorn chowder. There’s a kind of north American classic feel.
For mains, there is a decent selection of steaks on offer at The Grill on the Market, including a chateaubriand and wagyu fillet. On the other hand, if you’re feeling more seafood inclined, there’s a fine choice of dishes to pick from: whole lobster, smoked salmon, moules frites, whole Dover sole, fish and chips…you get the picture.
Having decided to keep in with this classic vibe and settled on oysters followed by sirloin steak, the attentive and friendly waitress points out you can have your steak with…either a skewer of garlic prawns or half a lobster.
Well, what can you say to that? In fact, the menu also offers something called ‘posh surf and turf’, a substantial combination of Sirloin steak, baby scallops, prawns and crayfish.
In hindsight, opting for steak and half a lobster was a bit too much (read greedy) for me, but on their own both were sound offers. The sirloin was a tasty and juicy hunk, if slightly over cooked for medium rare, and the lobster full of chunks of tender white meat.
It’s a relief to see a list of greens to accompany this protein haven. Overall, the menu at The Grill on the Market isn’t a menu for the light-hearted. Desserts take in crème brulee, chocolate fudge cake (recommended if you can manage it), sticky toffee and red velvet cake.
There’s a pianist playing in the background at The Grill on the Market and it’s a buzzy place. The tables are filled with large groups of friends, the post work crowd and couples, reflecting the wide appeal of places like this. Price-wise it is mid-range for steak and lobster…but it can add up.
The Grill on the Market isn’t showy; the focus is on a robust, tasty and dependable menu, with a good range of choice – which extends to its wine and cocktail list – but it’s delivered with enough style and comfort to carry it all through.
Read our guide to the best restaurants in Clerkenwell.