No longer just a common moniker
This bar was featured in the September issue of Australian Bartender.
213 High St, Prahran 3181
Phone: (03) 9514 2444
“More often that not the negatives turned into positives – it was a great learning experience.”
By Edward Washington
Relaunching in September 2011, The Smith has been “fitted with a tailored suit, a new face, a fresh attitude and a savvy team” – dividends that have paid well, with the venue nominated for New Pub of the Year at this year’s Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards.
While the name might smack of commonalities, the owners – Michael Lambie and Scott Borg – have a good reason for it. “(The) Smith is a global surname, we are a global eatery,” they explain. “It also conjures up the perception of accessibility of our place.”
Lambie and Borg are not newbies to the industry, having previously been on board with the very successful Circa and Taxi Dining Room venues. The duo have had a front of house and back of house relationship for 14 years (Lambie as chef and Borg as manager extraordinaire) and they’ve now gone into business together. Borg bills The Smith as, “a produce driven offering” and says, “we attract a professional calibre of staff and provide high level of service with a dedication to providing a higher level product.”
The vision to create a global eatery was a collaborative one, and took roughly a year to complete after buying the freehold back in November 2010. “We’re both dedicated to providing a fantastic cocktail culture and a concise wine list in a savvy environment befitting our location; Windsor end of Prahran,” said Lambie. This is a sentiment that is echoed by Borg.
Despite the regular hiccups that beset any venue construction, both these operators are satisfied with their achievements and the routes they took along the way. “Even the curve balls we experienced gave us an opportunity to think outside of the square,” said Lambie. “More often that not they allowed us to turn negatives into positives – it was a great learning experience.”
What these learning experiences have resulted in is a clean, classic and classy venue with a post-industrial interior showcasing bare brick walls and high open ceilings. Importantly for the owners the kitchen remains a focus point throughout most of the venue, giving guests a great view of the chefs in their engine-room. The Smith is softly lit, enough to ‘highlight the existing skin of the building’, and Borg explains that there are also exposed joinery elements, banquets and bronze edging that help create an intimate space with flexibility.[nggallery id=90]
Moving away from the aesthetics and Borg is adamant that the drinks program on offer is up to scratch. “Absolutely – we’ve got seriously cool cocktails and a savvy wine list on offer.” (Check out the Drinks Please section). Food is also a favourite topic for the owners and Lambie explains that The Smith offers, “global cuisine with an emphasis on sharing and tapas dishes. Think flavours from South America, Europe, Asia, Pan pacific.” It’s pretty accessible too with the most expensive main course around $40. (Check out the Kitchen Tastes for a sample).
If you hit The Smith for an evening out or an afternoon in then serving up your drink and dine options will be a smart, professional and dedicated team of staff who are helping The Smith attract a very broad demographic of clientele according to the owners, and Borg believes that it is the staff that will help make The Smith truly great as well as the value they offer and the focus on quality. “Our commitment to service, value for money, having the experience of running successful venues and attracting a great bunch of young professionals wanting to be a part of our business is all key.”
The Smith would be an ideal place to head with a group and the wine list offering is as smart as any. Not into wine? Then they’ll have you more than covered with beers, spirits and cocktails. So head on down and give this classy gastropub a look-in next time you’re out on the town.
Just a small selection from the wine list to get you started…
Mader Pinot Blanc, Alsace, France – 9/gls
Cape Mentelle ‘Trinders’ Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot, Margaret River, WA – 11/ gls
La Rame ‘St Coiux de Mont’ Sem/Sauv Blanc, Bordeaux, France – 18/gls
Ruinart ‘Blanc de Blanc’, NV, Champagne, France – 110/btl
Dr Loosen ‘Wehlener Sonnenurh Spatlese’ Riesling, Mosel Germany – 130/ btl
Bannockburn ‘Museum Release’ Chardonnay, Geelong, Vic – 115/btl
Head Grenache/Mataro, Barossa, SA – 55/ btl
Pizzini Nebbiolo, King Valley, Vic – 110/ btl
Yarra Yering ‘Dry Red no.1′ Cabernets, Yarra Valley, Vic – 285/btl
A small taste of the kitchen’s wares…
Fried gorgonzola filled olives – 9
Snapper croquettes with bonito mayonnaise – 9
Soft shell crab tortilla with avocado, black bean & jalapeno salad – 9.5/ each
The Smith country style terrine, with pear & ginger chutney, hot toast – 21
Kitchen charcuterie selection – 27
BBQ free range quail with brussels sprouts & chilli bois bourdon – 21
Steamed Atlantic scallops with house made XO, spring onions & fried ginger – 19.5
Hickory smoked ocean trout with sweet fish sauce & banana blossom – 20
Fish & Meat
Twice cooked caramelised pork hock with chilli garlic & steamed rice – 32
400g dry aged, pasture fed rib eye with hot mustard horseradish – 38
White peach soufflé with almond ice cream – 17
Cheese selection – 23