New York restaurants are making their mark on the capital this summer, we’ve already seen the opening of the dark, mysterious Hotel Chantelle and dined on candy floss coated chicken and then in June we saw the arrival of America’s beloved steak house Smith & Wollensky.
First opened in New York in 1977 by Alan Stillman, who had already found success with a little known chain T.G.I.F, Smith & Wollensky was named after two randomly chosen surnames from the directory and was recognisable from its signature green and white colouring. 38 years later it made the move over to London and can now be found in the Adelphi Building down by the Strand.
Walking into the restaurant you’d be forgiven for thinking they had kept the original art deco interior of the building, but in fact it’s all new. Created by designer Martin Brudnizki, the restaurant features, wood from railway carriages line the floor, black and gold tiles deck the ornate bar, marble surfaces, copper leaf ceilings reflect the low glowing light and leather banquettes line the outside of the restaurant. It’s elegant, refined and you can picture Londoners in 1920s refinery dining there post theatre. The restaurant is spread across two floors with three private dining rooms downstairs which can be interconnected or opened up to the downstairs restaurant.
The menu focuses around USDA Prime beef which is dry-aged for 28 days and fresh seafood. To start we went for the platter of seafood. A veritable feast appeared, the biggest shrimp (or to us Londoners, prawns) I have ever seen they were huge; fresh crab, lobster, oysters and scallops, we had to rein it back to make sure we could still eat the steaks we had coming.
We opted for the 14oz sirloin steak and the fillet mignon which is premium Scottish fillet mignon charbroiled and we chose it Oscar style, aka the ultimate decadence. It arrived topped with crab meat, hollandaise and asparagus, perfectly cooked and as clichéd as it sounds it really did melt in the mouth. Of course it isn’t just about the main event oh no it’s all about the sides, so we ordered creamed spinach (which we found out takes three days to make), hash browns and truffle mac ‘n’ cheese looking forward to this the most we were disappointed that it was rather dry, not that cheesy and didn’t taste of truffle, but at least the spinach was perfect. It was paired with a bottle of The Prisoner a Napa Zinfandel which was smooth, with berry undertones.
When I went to New York I was disappointed by the small puddings, I was expecting puddings so big I would be buying the next trouser size up, obviously I was going to the wrong places because Smith and Wollensky’s puddings could also model as door stoppers. They’re the sort of pudding that could probably do some serious damage if thrown at one’s head. A gigantic chocolate cake, was surprisingly, and a little worryingly, very light but still with an intense chocolate flavour, you could almost feel you cholesterol rising. But it was the Coconut layer cake with Malibu rum syrup that stole our hearts and whilst it was torrentially raining outside, inside we were tasting a little (read, enormous) slice of summer. Elegant they were not but they certainly were impressive in sheer size. Let’s just say Smith & Wollensky isn’t the sort of place you want to go if you’re on a diet. No you want to fully embrace the rich, creamy, decadent bold American cooking.
Price wise you this is going to be one you want to save for when you’re splashing the cash, of course you don’t have to order three sides or two bottles of wine but then again you’re not going to want consume all those calories that regularly either.