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Smiths, Eccles

Philip Hamer is captivated by a fine restaurant in the west of the city

Published on July 14th 2008.

Smiths, Eccles

Salford’s always been short of good places in which to eat out: a list of likely venues would struggle to fill two thirds of a postage stamp. Yet for the past 20 or so years initially with Bistro221 at Monton and now Smiths restaurant in Eccles, Dave Hebdon and his colleagues Chris and Dale, have managed to bring a little magic to the twin city.

"My starter was the cream of fish and seafood soup that Dave has been crafting from a secret recipe for years now. It was exquisite in its clash of the piquant and the savoury: one of the finest soups of its kind that I've tasted."

Smiths lies close to Eccles Station, within a former WH Smiths shop, hence the name, and is a lovely 110 cover contemporary restaurant.

There is a very attractive fixed price menu offering three courses for £15.75 with two courses offered from the same menu for £11.50 before 6.45pm. There is also an extensive chalk specials board offering, on our visit, such delights as black pudding and goats cheese served on a bed of mixed lettuce leaves (£5.95) and potted crayfish and prawns flavoured with spring onion and fresh chili (£5.95). We decided to stick with the fixed price menu though.

My starter was the cream of fish and seafood soup that Dave has been crafting from a secret recipe for years now. It was exquisite in its clash of the piquant and the savoury: one of the finest soups of its kind that I've tasted. Over the table a crab and pasta salad was bland in contrast despite the lightly curried mayonnaise that accompanied it.

The wine, on a small but comprehensive list, is sourced from the excellent Portland wine merchants in Hale. We had an awesome 16% proof Mitchells of Australia red blend of Grenache/ Mouvedre/ Shiraz from the 2002 vintage. Nicely tamed into a quiet mellowness by age it went well with all our courses.

It was particularly good with my main of Moroccan lamb casserole with cinnamon, cumin and coriander served on mint and spring onion cous cous. My partner enjoyed the roast chicken breast filled with a nicely balanced mushroom and tarragon stuffing and served with a not over-rich onion gravy. Iconic Jersey royal potatoes, mange tout and an interesting carrot and butternut squash puree were the veg. Portions were good though not over facing.

Our puddings revealed better that anything else the care that sets Smiths apart in the west of the city. My raspberry and Earl Grey jelly served with crème fraiche and summer fruit compote was gently refreshing. Over the table a warm Eccles cake -a case of 'when in Rome' - served with chilled butterscotch cream was delicious.

Service here was friendly and unfussy with the staff mingling and not stifling and over attentive. The absence of any ubiquitous restaurant music was very welcome. Eating here you get the feeling that the owners have hit on a formula that works. Smiths is definitely worth a visit: it's won awards for it's family friendliness in the past and also has regular and very popular live jazz nights on Tuesdays from 7.45pm.

Rating: 15/20
Breakdown: 7/10 Food
4/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: Smiths Restaurant
1-3 Church Street
0161 788 7343
M30 0DL
0161 923 6888

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJuly 14th 2008.

A great place that I've visited for years. A real flower in the dustbin that is eccles

RobHJuly 14th 2008.

Smiths is a great little place with good food and friendly staff. I have been at lunchtime and in the evening and it's always the quality never differs. Their Tuesday night jazz night is a great night out and the entertainment ensures a packed house for an early in the week night out.

KKJuly 14th 2008.

A hidden little gem! Well worth a visit, be it just the two of you for a romantic meal, a group of friends or even take the kids as they are very child friendly! I have been going here for years and will continue to do so for many more years to come.

JanieJuly 14th 2008.

I've had a few visits to Smiths and every time the food and service has been brilliant. It's a definite if you want to try somewhere that offers good food in a decent size helping and it's handy having the little car park just to the side so you don't have to walk too far once your belly is packed! I agree with Anonymous - Eccles is a dustbin but this place makes it worth visiting.

JohnJuly 14th 2008.

Have been a regular here for 10 yrs and have never had a bad meal in all that time, we have been there with both small and large parties, service and food always excellant, was recently there for the wine tasting evening they hold every now and again which was a pleasant, informative and relaxed evening. although yet to try there theatre nights. Always an easy going vibe about the place, and the staff are great, and not "in your face"> You can always pick up a piece of artwork from the walls by local artist Helen.

lauraJuly 14th 2008.

oops.... before the blank comment I was going to say I love Smiths it is a fantastic little place and the food has always been excellent. :)

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