Anyone who has had a trip to the States might recognise the name of this restaurant – or more accurately, recognise the ‘names’ of this restaurant. They don’t allude to mythical partners who might have opened the restaurant, but rather to a couple of names picked at random from a Manhattan phone directory! Smith and Wollensky!
The first Smith and Wollensky steakhouse was founded in 1977 and each of the restaurants has the trademark green and white accents, although the menus differ slightly. This London Smith and Wollensky opened in June 2015, as the brand’s first venue outside of the US, and it’s found in the iconic 1930s Adelphi Building off The Strand.
Smith and Wollensky oozes quality but it’s accessible quality
Executive Head Chef Tom Cook has an outstanding culinary pedigree. He manages a brigade of eighteen, and steers a restaurant which has classic style and attention to detail, as well as some outstanding dishes, the cornerstones of which are its celebrated steaks. This restaurant oozes quality but it’s accessible quality. Leather, polished metal, dark wood and an elegant black and white mural combine to make a statement.
Red meat isn’t the only fare here but it does predominate. It’s unlikely a vegetarian would pick Smith and Wollensky for a lunch date, but fish eaters are well catered for and there are plenty of vegetable side dishes and salads, although most of those contain a little meat, too.
My guest ordered Fillet of Beef Tartare dressed with Chipotle Mayonnaise. This was a substantial plate and flavourful. That spicy mayo was inspired. Knowing what was coming next, I opted for a light seafood preparation. Seared Chilli and Garlic Shrimp arrived in its own pot. They truly represented the name in every ingredient. Spicy and succulent, these needed nothing more than some bread with which to mop the juices. This is a must-try at Smith and Wollensky.
But then we were on to the main event and these steaks were worth every mile along the length of the District Line. We ordered two different cuts to compare: Premium Irish Rib-Eye Steak with Porcini Cream Sauce; and USDA Prime Beef Sirloin dry-aged for 28 days. Each had its merits, but they were equally good. Perhaps the sirloin had the edge, but I might have to return to try both again just to be sure. Both steaks were cooked to glistening perfection, with a seared crust from the grill. Sliced at the table for added theatre, Smith and Wollensky knows how to turn on the culinary charm!
Don’t overlook these humble veggies
Our shared and compared steaks were joined by Cajun French Fries and, on recommendation of our able server, Creamed Spinach. It sounds so simple and banal, doesn’t it? Steak and chips with some green stuff on the side to look noble! But don’t overlook these humble veggies. Those fries were addictive and the spinach was rich and comforting.
But there was also Herb-Crusted Bone Marrow. It wasn’t just the marrow that was presented but the bone surrounding it. The article must have been nearing a foot long, split and breaded and presented on a chopping board. The marrow was melting and gelatinous and a delightful accompaniment for those steaks. It’s all part of Executive Head Chef Tom Cook’s ethos of nose-to-tail eating. Yes, animals do come with bones, and it’s a shame we don’t see them on more menus.
Tom has lots of Specials and they change with availability, but they will be surely welcomed by regulars, of which there are many; they might like a pie for a change or a canapé of tongue – a flavourful cut of meat with the texture of pastrami!
And then there was dessert. I didn’t expect a steak restaurant to have fine desserts but Smith and Wollensky evidently have a skilled pastry chef. OK, we didn’t have pastry but our individual Key Lime Pie with lemon and meringue ice cream was a sweet delight; but the Citrus Terrine with yoghurt jelly and oat crumble was a tangy and bright finish to a memorable meal.
Tom Cook and his team didn’t put a foot wrong. They start by sourcing quality ingredients, from the meat to the potatoes. They respect those products and exercise a great deal of skill to produce meals that are correct, delicious and polished. Yes, Smith and Wollensky is a chain but it has become a chain, and a remarkable one, because it maintains standards.
Monday to Thursday: 7.30am till 10.30pm (last orders)
Friday: 7.30am till 11pm (last orders)
Saturday: 11am till 11pm (last orders)
Sunday: 12noon till 3:30pm (last orders)
Smith and Wollensky
The Adelphi Building
Covent Garden Riverside
1-11 John Adam Street
Phone: 020 7321 6007
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018