Meat Smith doesn’t believe in salad. Even the som tum slaw ($4), which was really just terrible superlative salty achar, was puny for the price. The price was screaming, “Don’t eat veg, go for the more value-for-money meats.”
Pig’s Ear ($5 a piece)
The meats, on the other hand, were a thing of masculine beauty, and luckily Meat Smith is meat-centric. The latest venture of hotelier Loh Lik Peng, Meat Smith is helmed by American chef Andrew Baldus, presenting a Southern American menu of bbq and smoked meats, with Asian influences. A tiny restaurant with 5 wait staff–some restaurants can’t even find 3–you know they have powerful backing and vast experience.
Beef Tongue ($13)
The menu changes frequently, and even though Meat Smith is new, some items are already taken off the menu when we were there, like fried green tomato which I wanted to try desperately because I love the novel, Fried Green Tomatos at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Half chicken ($20)
For starters, the pig ear lettuce wrap ($5 a piece) with banh mi pickles were too rock-hard to bite, and William found it too sour for his liking. William’s sharp tongue likened the beef tongue ($13) to Sichuan flavors, spicy and sour, and indeed, when we referred to the menu, there was Sichuan aioli–a stimulating dish. Many tables ordered the chicken wings ($12), so perhaps they were good.
After starters, there are meats and sandwiches. The wagyu beef rib ($50), slow-cooked 24 hours, was on many customers’ tables, but not ours; I’m not going to pay $50 for ribs the size of my palm at a restaurant you have to walk to the counter to order. We went for the 365-day grain-fed Angus brisket ($17/100g, pictured above). It was bland and uneven; the bottom half was dry but the top half was juicy. After we requested for salt to bring out the flavors of fat, the shredded succulence was educed and it was delicious.
Our favorite of the night, the half chicken ($20), was so tender even its breast was soft. The house rub on the skin was curious, paprika perhaps? and something that tasted like essence of chicken. When we asked the manager if it was undercooked, the insides were still pink, he said something about it being smoked and it was the color of smoke. Shrugs, dunno if it was true, but I’ll update this if I get Bird Flu.
Cobbler ($7) + Smoked ice cream ($2) – The only dessert on the menu
But, unlike the report in Business Times, the chicken didn’t have “flavour all the way through.” I suppose that is a problem with Meat Smith: there is inconsistency in the food. In various reviews of the joint, people say different things. But I for one am glad for the inconsistency because I’ll return over, and over, and over again to this joint to test it out. It is not mind-blowing as its sister outlet, Burnt Ends, but it encompasses a philosophy I espouse: good food with sparks of surprises and creativity at an affordable price. Maybe it could turn down its hillbilly music but otherwise, we were content. We paid $74 for two persons.
Meat Smith SG
167/169 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068618
T: +65 6221 2262 (no reservation)
M-Sat 11.45am-2pm, 5.30-11pm
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.