It was a friday night so of course cocktails were in order with a side order of live jazz music. So where in the blazes can you head to for that? None other than Smooth Croydon. Smooth (which you probably knew as Smoothbean from pre-lockdown days) has recently had a makeover and relaunched as a delicious tapas and cocktails restaurant. When Smooth were in cafe mode they dabbled in jazz nights which we adored, so are very glad they have been brought back again as a key feature with a yummy new menu.
On the evening we went to Smooth we dined to the lively sounds of Infusion jazz, headed up by the ever talented Rob Wilson Jr. It was a popular evening with many other familiar faces we could say hi to in person for the first time in a long while. It felt rather like a reunion of Croydon’s creatives. Smooth cultivates a buzzy and friendly atmosphere with the restaurant’s owners John and Pauline taking the time to stop and chat to all the diners.
Anyway back to those cocktails. Julia went for a Porn Star (the drink and not an actual porn star) and I, a Raspberry Collins. Now I’m a bit of a fusspot when it comes to cocktails. It’s all about balance between booze, mixers and the added sparkle. Basically getting the ingredients right is a bit of an art, but at Smooth they totally nail it. I sampled both cocktails and can tell you they were superb. The Porn Star, more commonly known as a Porn Star Martini, is made from vanilla vodka, passion fruit, lime juice with a chilled shot of Prosecco. As for the Raspberry Collins, it’s Tanqueray London dry gin, raspberry puree, lemon juice, topped with soda. All sounds simple enough, but believe me, you know a good mixology when you taste it. It’s worth coming to Smooth for the cocktails alone!
On to the food and a nice bottle of wine from their well selected range.
Just like cocktails, tapas done badly are bland, boring, dull, and a slog to get through. Fear not though. Smooth nail this once again. We ordered padron peppers – not too hot, but not uninteresting either, certainly a kick, but just the right amount – patatas bravas in special tomato sauce and vegan mayo, roasted portobello mushrooms with baked halloumi, cauliflower wings with barbecue sauce, scottish smoked salmon on in-house brown bread and beetroot and carrot hummus with pitta.
I’ve already mentioned the padron peppers which were delicious, so I’m going to skip straight to our number one ‘absolutely-loved-it’ dish of the evening. Ladies and gentleman, will you please be upstanding and raise your glasses to the cauliflower wings. When we ordered this I thought, yeah a bit of cauliflower sounds nice, but oh my, we were in heaven from the first bite. This is a dish that is both naughty but nice. I had never really thought about how versatile this veg (the nice healthy bit) could be! Coated and fried (the naughty bit) and served with a bit of greenery and barbecue sauce. It was tender, moreish and something I could have eaten a bucket load of. 10/10 for surprise and delight with this one!
Two other standout winners were the beetroot and carrot hummus (again, something I want to just grab a big pot of and take home for lunch everyday) and the portobello mushroom and halloumi. The flavours work so well together, let’s just call them soulmates and be done with it.
We finished our culinary experience with one final cocktail each, both opting for the Smoothbean Espresso Martini. I’m not one for coffee after dinner normally, but I’d never turn down an Espresso Martini, and these ones were particularly fine. The perfect end to a perfect evening.
We’ll be back soon to sample Smooth’s bottomless prosecco brunch.
Smooth is at 2-3 Dingwall Rd, Croydon CR0 2NA
They are open Thurs/Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 11am-11pm and Sun 11am-4.30pm.
Live music takes place on Friday evenings. This friday (3 September) will be The Cocktail Club Trio.
Photos by the Croydonist except the Infusion Jazz photo by Elizabeth Sheppard.
Posted by Angela