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Smith Square Bar & Restaurant (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of Smith Square Bar & Restaurant in Westminster, London

St John's Smith Square, Westminster, London, SW1P 3HA
Cuisine: British
Tel: 020 7222 2779 | Email to Smith Square Bar & Restaurant | Transport: Westminster | Write review

Smith Square Bar & Restaurant Review

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Best for: camera-shy politicians; spiffing soft drinks; alacritous service.

Great: hidden gem restaurant location; cheeseboard; wine by the glass.

This might come as a bit of a shock, but it needs to be said: politicians are just ordinary people. (*breathe, take it all in for a minute.) Yep, just like ordinary people, they too have families and ride bikes and wear jeans bought at TK Maxx. They even, we are now lead to believe, need to eat real food several times a day. Yeh, crazy huh?! It’s almost as though they could live amongst us and we would never even know. Now look out the window. See that woman over there? She could be a politician. Frightening!

As ordinary people, politicians should be treated as such. They haven’t got the time or inclination to have ideas above their station, no no. Not when they’re busy stopping libraries from rioting, or indiscriminately choosing their favourite despot de jour. Politicians don’t yearn for preferential treatment and, as such, they are content with being ordinary.

Fortunately, for ordinary people like Boris, Prescott and Hattersley (all regular customers), ordinary is exactly what they get when dining at Smiths Square Bar & Restaurant in the crypt of St John’s Church, Westminster. But - and this needs to be made abundantly clear - only in regards to the food.

It’s hard to muster more than a “well, at least I wasn’t sick” after sampling the bland carrot & lentil soup starter. And it’s a challenge to find anything worthy to note about the beetroot, hazelnut, and goat’s cheese salad (apparently I ate it. I forget. I must’ve dropped off).

The roast leg of lamb with minimal cabbage and absolutely no condiments produces verdicts mainly concerning its fat-to-fee ratio, and likewise the diffident salmon & haddock fishcakes only catch the attention due to the meatiness of their price tag.

The fat cut chips, I suspect, aren’t actually made on site, but found on site; ‘site’ being the crypt of St John’s Church. Yep, lifeless. The huge lumps of side bread provided were stunning, though; in that they could stun a person if wielded as a weapon.

In all, the perfunctory menu has little to highlight; not bad, just ordinary. Gravy, potatoes and a sizable cheeseboard are the only elements deserving of a congratulatory “hmmmm.”

AND YET (*waggle of forefinger), despite all this, there are parts to Smiths Square Bar & Restaurant in Westminster that warrant praise: the miniscule tables in the echoing vastness give off a museum canteen vibe; limited cellphone reception is a blessing for many; and service so swift it’s worthy of its own TV ad (in which Iggy Pop offers advice alongside a puppet of himself).

Likewise, the wine by-the-glass options (including the refreshing Chilean Echeverria Sauvignon Blanc) certainly help the sub-par fare go down easier. Plus, there’s also an abundance of jolly good soft drinks, with Fentiman’s dandelion & burdock, ginger beer, and elderflower juice all making a decent showing, what what.

Warning: ubiquitous ‘hidden gem’ approaching! Smiths Square Bar & Restaurant in Westminster has an off-the-beaten-track appeal, and the eerie caverns, inviting lighting and artwork hanging above each table lend it a dramatic movie-set charm. Charles Dickens described St John’s Church as “some petrified monster, frightful and gigantic, on its back with its legs in the air.” So Dickens wasn’t a fan of English Baroque architecture; who is? Unlike today’s clientele, though, Dickens wasn’t able to enjoy the cool, brick-vaulted interior of the crypt which, incidentally, never actually contained bodies, only beer and wine.

Considering the lacklustre menu, the overall experience is the dining equivalent to opening a Kinder Chocolate Egg and finding the much-hyped and hotly-tipped Andy Murray losing a quarter final at Wimbledon inside: yeh, it could so very well be special. Only it’s not. It’s ordinary.

Tourists may unwittingly fall down into the restaurant when lost, searching for Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, or the Houses of Parliament (or the Tate Britain if they’re really lost), and music lovers will undoubtedly gather for a pre-show natter and/or nibble before heading upstairs for a classical recital, but mostly it’s politicians who’ll hide here as they maintain their level of ordinariness.

Still, you must visit. Just don’t order any food. Unless it’s a lovely slice of lemon drizzle cake accompanied by a whole bottle of English Chapel Down sparkling wine. Then sit back and picture Cameron and Clegg diving sideways in slow motion, facing one another across an enchanting crypt, firing shot after shot of metaphorical political wizardry towards one another before Nick tumble-and-rolls neatly behind a lovely piece of masonry and Dave lies dying in a pool of his own rhetoric. Who’s ordinary now, suckers?!
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Customer Reviews for Smith Square Bar & Restaurant

Average (based on 2 votes): 2 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Smith Square Bar & Restaurant.

“I frequent Smith Square bar and restaurant quite often. I work near Westminster and find it a nice, quiet getaway from the streets packed with snap-happy tourists. There is a good selection of hot and cold drinks, and wine (but don’t tell the boss!). I don’t usually leave reviews but feel as Smith Square gives so much of its time to me I should do something nice in return! Oh, and there’s the added benefit of politician spotting. If you know or care who they are!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Tally Houghton, Bow (7 years 5 months 21 days ago)

“It's a shame that the food is not quite up to scratch at this restaurant because the location is a real find. Very dramatic yet welcoming. I love that nobody knows about it. I'll pop back for an afternoon tea next time I'm in the Westminster area.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Dennis, Chelsea (7 years 5 months 22 days ago)

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Additional Information

  • Cuisine Type: British
  • Dress Code: Not Specified
  • Group: Leafi

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