Smith & Wollensky
I ♥ NY. I love New York's Restaurant Week!
Today, we headed uptown for lunch at Smith & Wollensky. I've heard about this famous steakhouse from a coworker who often brought family members here to lavish them with birthday dinners. This, along with Peter Luger, is reputed to be one of New York's best old-school steakhouses. I hear many new steakhouses are gaining prestige, but it was certainly fun to visit an institution, at a discounted price!!
(Restaurant Week: now - February 10th; Mondays - Fridays; $24.07 lunch and $35 dinner prix fixe 3-course meals!!)
When we arrived, we were greeted by a host downstairs who sent us upstairs to a second host. Then, we were led quickly through the dining room to a table in the back. Everything flew by so fast that I hardly had time to soak up the atmosphere, but the rooms were generally wood-accented and traditional. Although I read some reviews on Yelp that blamed the service staff for bad service, I found our waiters to be attentive and helpful. Most of them were older gentlemen who looked like they'd been there all their lives, and proud of it.
We both ordered fried calamari for starters. Alex got the 10 oz. filet mignon and I got the lump crab cakes. For dessert, we ordered chocolate mousse cake and cheesecake.
Our bread basket was diverse and very tasty! First, we shared a pretzel roll. I didn't notice it was a pretzel roll until I bit into it and recognized a fleck of salt and the puffy, chewy, rich inside of the roll. Super good, super New York-ish. Then, we buttered up other kinds of bread and noshed until our food arrived.
The calamari! The portions were enormous. I was actually wondering if they'd confused appetizer for entree. We had seemingly bottomless bowls of breaded, brown calamari pieces, a big side bowl of marinara, and a lemon slice. The calamari was good: each piece had a nice bit of crunch and chew, with the breading and the meaty calamari. After a while, I have to admit it was getting a little overwhelming: Alex shoveled all his tentacle-y bits onto my bowl so I ended up with a lot of calamari. I was already on my way to being full when our main courses were brought out.
The filet mignon was the simplest dish I'd ever seen in a restaurant. The round, heavy white plate with the Smith & Wollensky seal of approval stamped on the side, was topped with one lump of meat. No garnish, no sides, just a dash of sauce and beef. Ballsy! But, according to Alex, definitely justified! I watched him start carving the filet and saw a nice medium pink inside. I'm no steak expert, but I gotta admit, it was a delicious hunk of meat! A little underseasoned, but tender and juicy.
I was really happy with my crab cakes. There were two medallions of crab cakes and a little bowl of tartar sauce in the middle (which I realized was not traditional tartar sauce but probably some sort of roux. The cakes were delicious with large lumps of crab and tangy herbed breading. The crab was very sweet and meaty. The "tartar sauce" didn't add much to the flavor of the crab cakes, but overall they were awesome.
I was very full when dessert rolled around, but my stomach somehow knew to make room for dessert. The chocolate mousse cake was served with a dollop of real whipped cream, a bit of sweetness for the otherwise densely chocolatey cake. My cheesecake had a bit of a lemony hint nestled in the rich filling. I think I let out a lot of groans of ecstacy throughout the meal.
Smith & Wollensky
797 Third Avenue