Neil Rankin partners with pub duo for London gastropub opening

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chef

Smokehouse will open on 19 August with a BBQ-focused menu and 20 craft beers available on-tap
Smokehouse will open on 19 August with a BBQ-focused menu and 20 craft beers available on-tap
Scott Hunter and Maria Larsen, the young husband and wife behind three successful gastropubs in London, have teamed up with former Pitt Cue Co chef Neil Rankin for their fourth venture, Smokehouse, which opens in Islington next month.

Situated on the former site of The House pub on Canonbury Road, the 45-cover venue is a collaboration between Rankin and the pub duo's nearby venue, The Pig & Butcher. The focus will be very much on the food offering, with Rankin’s BBQ-influenced menu making use of a bespoke Robata grill and many meat and fish dishes smoked in-house with a charcoal offset smoker.

“The quality of the ingredients and traditional cooking styles will be the focus while the style will be defined and gutsy with lots of big flavours and wide-reaching influences,” said Rankin, who joins Smokehouse from the revamped John Salt, leaving his former sous chef Luke Findley in charge of the nearby neighbourhoud bar.

Hunter and Larsen,​who met working at a Pitcher & Piano bar, have developed a knack for reinvigorating dilapidated London boozers into profitable gastropubs. The pair took over the Princess of Shoreditch in 2008, doubling sales in less than a year. They then acquired the Lady Ottoline in Bloomsbury in 2011, and the Pig & Butcher in Islington's Liverpool Road last year.

Proactive approach

At Smokehouse, the ethos is simple: ‘To celebrate delicious, seasonal food from great suppliers alongside craft beers (20 on-tap), hand-pulled local ales and an exclusively European wine list from only small family vineyards’.

The restaurant will be working with the same farms and fishermen as The Pig and Butcher and will introduce some of Rankin's Cornish and London suppliers too. Dishes on his regularly-changing menu include lobster and spring onion frittata, short-rib Bourguignon and peppered ox cheek with cauliflower cheese and gravy.

In addition to the 45-cover dining room, a separate bar area will have space for an additional 20 customers and a 50-cover garden area will be open throughout summer. Owners Hunter and Larsen will be confident in making Smokehouse another of their success stories, with Hunter recently claiming that running a licensed venue in the current climate isn’t difficult.

“Opening the Princess of Shoreditch was a big learning curve for us both and we’ve had to work so hard, but if we could do it I don’t see why anyone else couldn’t,” he told BigHospitality. Read more of that interview here.

When asked about the potential of opening more restaurants with Rankin, Hunter and Larsen said: "We hope our working relationship will go further than just the one, but nothing else is planned."

Smokehouse will open on Canonbury Road, Islington, on 19 August. 

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