Al Dente Field Report: Smokeshack, Stony Stratford

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew Reid, author, bon vivant and professional badass came down to stay with us. Andrew’s great and is, as we speak, settling into the new country and life that he, his amazing partner Lisa and future Empress of All Space Aoife, their daughter, now live in. But before he left, he stopped in to say hi, hang out, play Destiny and eat lots of meat.

So, you hungry?


So, The Smokehouse is a couple of miles away from our house and is a stealth restaurant. It’s stealth firstly because it’s concealed inside a sort of British small town so amazingly nice and quiet that you half expect Richard Burton to stumble through mumbling about the chances of anything coming from Mars. Secondly, because it’s hidden inside a house. Seriously, there’s a full kitchen, restaurant and bar all folded into the sort of building you walk past without batting an eyelid. Only the smells, and, well…the…sign, key you in to what’s in there.

And what is in there, Alasdair? I imagine you saying.

Meathalla, gentle readers. The place meat goes to live forever in glory. Delicious, digestive glory.

Victor! What did I order?

Surf and Earth. Or to put it another way?



Garlic Butter

Garlic Shrimp

Garlic butter

Beef Goujons. Yes.

Sweet Potato Fries

Let’s get the salad out of the way first because that’s what you do when you’re ten and just want to become CAKEFACE as quickly as possible. I am increasingly of the opinion that good salad is unfussy salad. This is very good salad. Lettuce leaves, pepper rings, onions, a little beetroot. There was some viagrette or something similar drizzled over the top but it was very zen. In fact, if the vinaigrette was a film character it’d be Taye Diggs in Chicago as the narrator. Just hanging out, being awesome and spotlighting other ingredients like: ‘And now here’s some lettuce.’

Yes. A Chicago reference. I live to surprise you.

Next up, the Pinkslaw. Honestly, I had very little because Coleslaw is a little hyperactive for me on meals like this. However, what I had was pretty good.

Now, garlic shrimp. What you’re not seeing is the frikking garlic shrapnel and oil the things were covered in. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? Like they just glooped a big old mess of stuff on the plate? Not at all. The shrimp were beautifully, lightly fried and seemed to have had the garlic oil drizzled onto them. Plus, shrimp is one of those blank canvas meats. It takes on the flavour of anything you apply to it and this was really good garlic oil, therefore really good garlic shrimp. Plus you could go Full Elvis if you wanted to and dip the garlic shrimp in the garlic butter, thus creating Garlic-ception.

Now. Beef goujons.

Let’s boogie.

NOT LIKE THAT. This time. Good thinking though. Hey is the Squa-

…Very good. Almost…suspiciously good.


So, beef goujons. Basically? Steak in formal wear. Each one was a piece of beef, clearly precooked to a certain degree and then battered and fried. Again, not even a little greasy, there was no sense of someone just hurling batter at it until it gurgled for mercy. The coating was light and crunchy and the meat was extraordinary. Just a little pink in the middle, very soft and absolutely perfectly seasoned. You only get four of them but that’s because honestly, you only need four. They taste amazing and their texture and flavor holds the entire, otherwise slightly weird and disparate, meal together.

Oh and sweet potato fries, because they’re brilliant. Also amazingly easy to do, and you don’t even have to fry them. Cut a sweet potato into wedges, drop it in olive oil, salt and pepper and mix it in. Then, drop them onto an oven try and bake for about twenty minutes. Put paprika on there if you feel fancy. And trust me, you do.


And that’s it. A fantastic, simply presented meal made with amazing ingredients in a restaurant that’s sort of hidden and concealed in a cool way. Best Beef Goujons EVER and the rest of the menu is apparently just as good. Go here, look, drool, move to the area, book, come say hi, TAKE US WITH YOU. Easy.

Next time! Cooking food AS well as eating it! See you then.

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