Bowling Bird is a neighbourhood restaurant in Smithfield worth travelling for. The restaurant opened its doors at the end of 2017 and serves a mix of business people from the City – especially for lunch – and foodies. Bowling Bird was created by John King, former manager of Goodman steak house in the City, and Joseph Pelosi, the former owner of Otago in Glasgow who came to London to start a wholesale wine business several years ago. Pelosi runs the kitchen at Bowling Bird and is joined by head chef Emiliano Gallegos who used to cook at La Pulperia, an excellent Argentian restaurant in Paris.
Bowling Bird’s panelled windows and black wooden frontage look out onto a small alley that runs behind the south side of Smithfield. The location and look of the restaurant gives Bowling Bird a traditional, old London feel as well as an atmosphere of warmth and intimacy. Inside, the décor is modern and welcoming with a calming mix of pared-back natural wood and neutral tones that provide the perfect canvas for the food to take centre stage.
Bowling Bird really cares about making the most of seasonal ingredients and showing their imagination and skill in preparing them in the most delicious ways possible. The menu is divided into flexible mix-and-match courses of Bread and Snacks, Boards, Sea & Land, and Earth each with a seasonal, Mediterranean feel and flashes of inspiration from Asian and South American cuisines. The menu is hyper seasonal so will change as the weeks and months pass and the team pride itself on using organic, free-range meat and eggs, sustainable, line-caught fish and organic, in-season fruit and vegetables.
From the Bread and Snacks menu, the crunchy, delicious blue corn tostada is completely unmissable, as is the fresh bread with salty, and umami-seaweed-rich Abernethy dulse butter. When Brummell visited, we ordered a monkfish, king prawn and shellfish tomato stew with fennel and acini di pepe, which was fresh, rich and utterly irresistible.
Other highlights from the Sea & Land menu include the côte de boeuf, rack of lamb and king prawns with ginger and lemongrass aioli. From the Earth menu the beautifully balanced tart, sweet and savoury chargrilled broccoli is served with French beans, sherry vinaigrette and hazelnuts, and the daily changing menu of specials is always worth pursuing.
The small but perfectly formed dessert options include a rich Valrhona chocolate pot, a tarte tatin or, our choice, a perfectly unguent crème brûlée with a perfectly crisp top shielding the moreish vanilla cream beneath.
With Pelosi’s former role as the head of a wine wholesaler, it was a good bet that the list would be as strong as it is. Happily, it doesn’t disappoint. The generous 250-bottle list features bottles from Austria and Slovakia, as well as a really good selection from California and Washington. Bottles start at around £30 and Bowling Bird’s knowledgeable staff are a wealth of knowledge when matching wine to food.
For snacks, a couple of larger dishes, sides, dessert and wine for two people, the bill would be around £100.
Bowling Bird is somewhere patrons will return to time and time again for the changing menu, great cooking and exquisite wine list. It’s a real gem worth seeking out on Smithfield’s atmospheric alleyways.
Bowling Bird, 44 Cloth Fair, EC1A 7JQ; bowlingbird.com