City slickers- rejoice! For a new branch of the brilliant smokehouse One Sixty has opened just a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street. But this isn’t just any old run-of-the-mill meat joint- One Sixty is offering up some seriously sophisticated barbeque, worthy of the most discerning carnivore.
Originally based in West Hampstead, One Sixty is the brainchild of Michelin-starred restaurateur David Moore (of Pied à Terre/ L’Autre Pied fame) and Sean Martin (who revamped the Northumberland Arms in Fitzrovia). They set out to take on the American smokehouse classics, but this time, with an English twist. Gone are the cloyingly sweet glazes and uninspiring menus that one usually associates with BBQ restaurants, replaced with an altogether more grown-up affair. Everything from the décor, with One Sixty’s signature tone of yellow cropping up across the restaurant, to the cocktail list, carry the distinctive flair and attention to detail that make dining here such a pleasure.
Speaking of cocktails, we kicked things off with a particularly brilliant smoked Mezcal and chilli Old Fashioned and a Kamm & Sons beer cocktail with elderflower and honey water. Honourable mentions also go to the excellent pisco sours and the signature One Sixty beer cocktail which were also distinctly quaffable. With cocktails this good, we were expecting great things from the food.
And lo and behold, we were not disappointed. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, and it took a great amount of restraint to not demolish the entire lot. We started with the pig’s cheek scrumpets (weirdly cute name for a starter, which could be made even cuter by calling it a scrumplet, just sayin’) and mac & cheese. The scrumpets were incredible; a crunchy pig cheek croquette with an umami-rich sauce, there really is no other way to describe them other than pleasingly piggy. The mac & cheese was rich and luxurious without being stodgy, with a crisp cheesy topping. Both were devoured with unladylike relish while we waited for the main event.
Promptly our mains arrived. We had plumped for the enormous smoked pork ribs and the 8 hour smoked ox cheek with mash with sides of tenderstem broccoli with garlic and chilli, and the chips with Bloody Mary ketchup. Okay, so maybe we weren’t that restrained with the ordering, but how can anyone be when the food is this good? The meat was meltingly tender, and expertly seasoned, with hints of cloves, cumin and coriander seeds coming through. The ox cheek in particular was a real treat as it was served with a wonderfully smooth mash and would make the perfect plate of comfort food come winter. The ribs were gloriously pink; a sign of their time spent on the smoker (incidentally the name One Sixty comes from the temperature of the smoker which is set to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the point at which ‘the magic happens’). These too were simply falling off the bone. Marvellous meat aside, what really impressed me was the assortment of pickles that came with the mains. Each type of pickle had its own distinct flavouring, from mustard seeds and caraway to dill, and had been treated as an important feature of the plate, elevating the dish to something far superlative to its BBQ cousins with their creamy, heavy coleslaws. The sides certainly didn’t let the side down, with fresh, well-seasoned broccoli and crunchy, thick cut chips with their punchy Bloody Mary dip only added to our impression that things at One Sixty are done a little differently.
If I’m entirely honest, I wasn’t expecting great things when I visited One Sixty, thinking “not another smokehouse”, but it really knocked me sideways. The care and attention put into this restaurant is evident in every aspect of it, making the highly affordable pricing a real surprise. I hear that they are soon to be launching a brisket bar for lunch times as well as desserts, so put down that sad Pret sandwich, and get yourself over to One Sixty for possibly the best smokehouse fare that London has to offer. I’ll see you at the bar.
One Sixty, 9 Stoney Lane, E1 7BH.