I was already an unashamed admirer of this classic steakhouse. Smith & Wollensky ticks all the gastronomic boxes for me, and with decor to bring joy to the very soul of this reviewer of ‘a certain age’. Yes, I appreciate quality, but it must be unintimidating. Yes, I want classic service, but it must be unobtrusive. And I definitely want great food to match my already elevated expectations. Those expectations would have been formed, in the case of Smith and Wollensky, as soon as I had crossed its threshold.
We had lunched here in the past (read my review here) and that was a memorable few hours, and on that occasion, we just had to have Smith & Wollensky’s signature steaks. They didn’t disappoint, but how would this polished example of a steakhouse fare when it came to the most important meal of the day?
The question is purely rhetorical as I was sure that any restaurant with such a solid reputation for steaks would not let the side down by offering a second-rate brekkie. We ordered healthy and refreshing fruit juices. They were fresh from the carrot and made us feel noble and energetic. Well, OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but that juice gave us the strength to consider the rest of the menu.
Destined for the breakfast table
It’s not the longest breakfast menu in the world at Smith & Wollensky. It has, however, garnered a band of loyal morning followers who know just what they want. It seems that many fall into one of two camps. The USDA 150g Sirloin Steak topped with Eggs any way you like them was no surprise. It’s a steak restaurant, and an American one, so that classic was bound to put in an appearance. I can vouch for the meat here: great effort is made to source the finest, and care is taken to present each steak at its best – and that includes those destined for the breakfast table.
The second camp is populated by lovers of Smashed Avocado on Sourdough Bread. I didn’t understand the appeal of this vegetable (or is it a fruit?) as a morning menu item, but I have tried it and it works even for this card-carrying carnivore. But, for me at least, the S & W Bacon Sandwich would likely keep my feet firmly planted on the meaty wagon.
But then, out of the corner of my bleary and hardly focusing eye, I saw a vision. It was our waiter bringing a pile of fluffy pancakes to the adjoining table. This was a stack that one could more easily liken to a collection of small white tyres, with a garnish of dark and dramatic fruits. This was the Buttermilk Pancakes & Blueberry Compote. This plate would turn the head of any diner not already committed to a savoury start to the day. So I have got to try these next time!
My guest was taken with Smoked Bacon Hash and Poached Eggs. This was a brace of hash cakes bejewelled with porcine gems and each topped with a poached egg, yolks bathing the well-textured potatoes. A portion of smashed avocado on the side offered a verdant companion. It’s like poetry, init?
Roll out the welcome-mat
I ordered the Vegetarian Breakfast. Yes, Smith & Wollensky is a celebrated steakhouse, and I do love their steaks, but there are those folks who might feel that such an establishment won’t roll out the welcome-mat for them. Well, actually, this emporium of steak also does one of the best vegetarian breakfasts in London. This was a full breakfast that won’t leave the non-meat-eater feeling short-changed. Grilled haloumi was there in squeaky slices along with mushrooms, spinach, plum tomatoes, proper baked beans and a sunny fried egg. There is also porridge and muesli on offer as well as pastries, but this was a Full English-with-a-bit-of-Cypriot-and-no-pork-and-a-satisfying breakfast and fit for any vegetarian who might just be going out to mend a road. This was real food!
Smith & Wollensky is a restaurant to visit at any time of day, and it was good to see that the attention to detail starts early. Steak-lovers will appreciate the classic steak and eggs and there is lighter fare, too. But vegetarians are invited to enjoy brilliant and imaginative food, as well. Smith & Wollensky have a breakfast to please everybody.
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