With a name meant to represent the Everyman, Smith certainly does have the common touch: its servers are warm and welcoming, its patrons table-hop to hug each other and the tops of those tables are furnished with a jumble of Grandma’s china side plates and mismatched silver. The decor – a quirky, unfinished look created by Commute Home – certainly props up the homey feeling.
Small surprises punctuate this cozy Church Street boîte: fridge- magnet letters spray up one corner; a wall sculpture that looks like it’s made of industrial iron turns out to be white-painted wood; and a thicket of tiny lights make the dark ceiling dance. Comfortable white banquettes sit in uncomplicated repose beneath acid-patinated mirrors. The overall effect is that of a front parlour from a simpler time. Comfort can also be found on the newsprint menu, heavy with earthy goodness. “The onion rings are so tasty, I cried,” gushed a nearby patron, helping us make just the right selections. A salt cod brandade is dolled up with tomato and tarragon compote ($12), and beef tenderloin carpaccio is dressed with heady truffle oil and Grana Padano cheese ($13). A tasty halibut fillet sits on a parcel of Swiss chard- wrapped risotto in a pool of beetroot beurre blanc ($26). Southern fried chicken with collard greens and ham gravy is so crispy, you may want to ask for safety goggles ($17).
Happily, dinner here won’t break the bank, as the prices are as low as the hemlines are high on the girls who, right after dessert, head upstairs to the dance floor. This younger crowd blends well with early night diners, underlining the neighbourhood feel. I’ll take my hug now.
By Doug Wallace
Photos by D. Picard
As featured in our Winter 2011 issue