Smokehouses are the in thing at the moment. We aren’t quite at that burger phase yet, but Londoners are really hot on their smoked comfort food. With Big Easy Covent Garden and Smokehouse adding to my yearly summer gut in recent weeks, tonight it was the turn of One Sixty to add on the pounds. It was the first time I’ve been to West Hampstead, mainly because I didn’t expect anything to be cramped between Kilburn and Finchley Road, and so it was about the last place I expected to find a trendy high street lined with nice bars and restaurants.
One Sixty fits the vibe with it’s scruffy-chic black walls and school furniture. This is the bed-hair of restaurant decor. By that I mean it looks like it has just been thrown together with no effort, but really, as with all those Southern tosser students who plagued Newcastle and sent me south, it is all very deliberate. A lot of time goes into making something look this way. Why? Well that’s another matter. This sort of style is the fucking toast of London at the minute. Some bastard must have seen it working in New York and brought it over to plague our shores. Please London hurry up and get it out of your system. There’s only so many splinters in my arse I can take during a meal.
What makes up for the splinters is the beer list. This will please any craft beer fan. There’s plenty of local stuff, all the American heros, and some micro breweries I haven’t come across before. This all makes for a cracking tasting session as you work your way through dinner. It also fits with this whole hipster/Yuppie vibe, in other words for those pretentious bastards (me included) who pride themselves on knowing their IPA from their standard pale ale. From being able to comment on the level of hops. It sure as hell is an elite crowd to be part of.
The menu keeps things simple with a few starters/side nibbles to go alongside belt-slackening classics. If you aren’t licking your chops at the prospect of 8 hour smoked ox cheek or pork ribs then you’re nobody I want to know. We settled for some cracking little hot wings (£6) that had enough heat and an addictive sour, salty and cheesy dipping sauce. A mac and cheese was good, but not sticky enough for me, and it could have done with some crumble on top to give extra bite.
Then it was time for the Smoked pork ribs (£14) that really were smoky. They had a smokers-jacket taste to them, and I mean this in the best way possible. They were like having a cigarette at the end of a drinking session. Something you crave again and again no matter how bad it is for you. Plenty of salty goodness and enough pink meat to get stuck in all your teeth.
The Smoked Lamb (£17.50) we liked less, but only because it was all a bit neat and tidy, and a little small when compared with the ribs. Thought had gone into the presentation, and even though the meat was delicious, it was just a bit precise for the type of food I was after. Stick to the ribs and you can’t go wrong. A side of mash and gravy and chips (£4 each) were spot on, and needed to fill you up.
To finish we shared the drunken banoffee jar (£5) which was a bit of a lightweight on the booze but bloody tasty regardless. I’d have wolfed 3 of them no bother.
The bill came to around £35 a head with a couple of great local beers and a solid smoky meal. If this is the new craze London is getting off on, then I’ll be one happy punter.