If The Smokehouse @ The O Bar in Leicester were a child it'd probably have taken its first few steps, have a couple of cute little baby teeth and established their favourite tv children's programme. For today, The Smokehouse turns one. N'aww.
Since it's very first days as the pop up brainchild of the orange tree group, through Leicester street food markets and now as a permanent residency, I've sampled a fair few of their excellent burgers from their ever developing menu. I went along to enjoy their latest Autumn menu, as well as sing happy birthday in my head to the lovely little place.
If you're from the East Midlands, I'd very surprised if you hadn't heard of The Orange Tree and their splendid cocktail menus. From old school classics to their signature combinations, my all time favourite has to be the Toblerone Martini. However on this occasion i was driving, and so opted for a Lemonito, a cool and refreshing mojito style mocktail.
Boasting a brilliant blackboard of craft beers, you'd be a fool not to try out the North American Blue Moon, New York Brooklyn Lager or Pennsylvanian Sly Fox Hells. My boyfriend went for the Sly Fox Phoenix, which is an american pale ale.
After much deliberation over their stunning soul food inspired dishes, we decided to go for starters and mains with sides. This is risky business, since their Sticky Toffee Pudding is phenomenal and I've never quite had room to sample.
The Cajun Plaice starter (£5.50) came on a bed of creamed corn and roasted squash. I'd not had creamed corn before but the silky texture scattered with creamy sweetcorn certainly complemented the spicy paprika and cayenne pepper on the crispy plaice skin, as well as the delicate white fish beneath.
Sam went for the BBQ Mushrooms with Cashel Blue Cheese and pickled shallot salad (£4.50). I felt a bit smug as I'd predicted he'd have this before he even spied it on the menu. If you haven't tried smoky barbecue flavours with blue cheese before then this needs to go on your foodie to-do list. I'm certainly feeling inspired for next year's BBQ season.
Behold the burger beasts; the 12 Hour Smoked Brisket of Beef in a brioche bun (£11.50) and The Smoke Stack Burger (£9.50). So firstly, the beef brisket. I remember this back when The Smokehouse first opened, enjoyed it at their street market stall and numerous other times last year. I can't fault it and I can't keep myself from ordering, no matter how good the other dishes sound. As you can see, the soft brioche bun is positively packed with low and slow smoked beef, flavoured with the stickiest and smokiest of flavours.
The Smoke Stack Burger however, is a whole other monster. I have only shared this one once with my foodie blogger pal Charlotte. Sandwiched between a glazed brioche bun, you'll discover two beef patties layered with pulled pork, cheese, bacon and onions. Ouch. This is one for the hardcore Smokehousers, and I doubt you'll be disappointed.
Alongside these we somehow gobbled down some sides. Their legendary mashed potato (£3.50) and the sweet potato pancakes with horseradish crème fraiche (£2.95). So basically, this mashed potato is in a league of its own. The pinnacle of potato. The champion of champs. Real gold medal mash. You're just going to have to try it in all it's buttery, gravy soaked goodness. But if you're dining with me, don't expect me not to eat it all.
The sweet potato pancakes were a new addition to the menu, for my eyes anyway. An interesting and refreshing alternative to chips or mash (not that you'd want to substitute), I found this really tasty whilst Sam was a little disappointed as he thought they were bland and a little stodgy. He does love his spicy food, mind. That said, we really just love the mash too much and probably would have happily had a double portion.
Somehow, we managed to finish this banquet of low and slow smokey meats with creative accompaniments. Of course we still didn't have room for the sticky toffee pudding, but no doubt we'll be back again.
Happy Birthday Smokehouse, I love ya.
the o bar
59-61 braunstone gate
note: i was kindly invited for a complimentary meal to celebrate the first birthday of the smokehouse. my purse has definitely seen it's fair share of other smokehouse visits. all opinions are honest and my own.