Smith & Wollensky – Review (The Strand) More style over substance?

Smith & Wollensky first established in 1977 in the US it comes across the Atlantic to London and opens it’s doors on June 22nd 2015 in the Adelphi Building. The interior stylistically Art Deco, adorned with green and chestnut banquettes as well as heaps mahogany wood, two cocktail bars with trophy wines to pick from too. It’s quite grand with space for 300 diners across a vessel sized 15,000 square feet across two floors with private dining rooms too.  The kitchen’s bells & whistles include a butcher shop as well as dry-aging room on the premises – this is a given at this level! The beef is imported USDA Prime beef with British and Irish cuts available too.

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Art deco eat your heart out:

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The bar shelves are adorned with some great spirits.

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There was a group of 6 of us who attended and to say I’m excited to try out this US institution is an understatement. I must confess though – where is their much coverted prime rib?

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A nice selection of juices.

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In case you didn’t know where the steak comes from..

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The bread & butter is good, a lovely crust means lovely flavour.

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Michel Torino Malbec £28. Plonk that you could probably buy for sub £10 online somewhere, but hey it was good nonetheless. Quite a smooth drinker.

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Frescobaldi Pomino £44 – bianco juice that could be bought for sub £10 from your finest internet.

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Yellow fin tuna tartare £16. I didn’t get to try this one so will pass comment – but here it is in all it’s £16 glory:

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Sear king scallops with butter bean & carrot purée & bacon. This was delicious, scallops plump and caramelised to bring out it’s natural sweetness. The purée was dense but sweet and earthy matching the seafood well and that bacon was paper thin and crisp. What made it more interesting is the roe which was intact – a rarity these days in restaurants.

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Now onto the piece de la resistance. First up premium Irish fillet mignon charbroiled 225g £35. It looks juicy for sure and beautifully pink. Comments reserved as I didn’t get to try it.

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Fillet mignon gorgonzola crusted – bacon and scallions 12oz £51. I didn’t get to try this one, it does look good though!

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UK Porterhouse £99 cooked mid rare. The Porterhouse just like the T-Bone (cut from the smaller area) is from loin area of the beef. The central T-Shaped Bone divides the fillet and sirloin or NY Strip in case you’re wondering. The steak came with intense beef flavour and was quite tender, but it was quite dry albeit seasoned well.

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Creamed spinach £10 – it’s exactly how it’s written on the tin but at £10 a pop I’d expect truffle shavings next time!

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Pan fried field mushrooms £5. Bursting with umami flavour, I liked these.

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Honey glazed chantenay carrots £5. Tender and sweet, there isn’t much more to ask for.

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Hashed brown potatoes £8. I’m not sure about brown but definitely charred! It was a little over-cooked giving that slightly bitter burnt taste. I passed after the first mouthful.

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Truffled mac ‘n’ cheese £12. Gooey, rich and the truffle aroma kicks in straight after tasting the cheese.

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Butter milk onion rings £9. The batter and onions done so well they became one, not like those frozen ones when the onion just slides out. They were crisp, greaseless and so good I believe I ate the whole lot!

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Sautéed spinach £5 just like how Popeye intended.

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Desert time!

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Treacle sponge and custard £8. The sponge was a little dry and that the treacle sweetness prevailing – I was hoping the custard would soften it but it’s attempts were feeble. Our friendly waitress took it away in exchange for the crème brûlée.

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Creme brûlée £8. The custard thick and rich but left me wanting as it was lacking character – perhaps more vanilla would have helped? The contrasting caramel was subdued too, it could have done with a bit more browning.

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New York style cheesecake £8. ‘Creamy traditional NewYork style cheesecake with a sweet graham cracker crust, served with a raspberry coulis’. It was the best of the 3!

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The Singleton of Dufftown 12yr £13. A big Speyside number to finish off the proceedings and why not!

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The verdict:

When did I go? March 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £75-£100 per head for 3 course and drinks.
The good: The old school art-deco set-up is endearing and looks to be time warped from another era (in a good way). I would whole-heartedly come back again for the butter milk onion rings providing if the service is good as my first visit.
The bad: For all of it’s history and decorative deco charm Smith and Wollensky in London is a cool place but it’s flawed vessel. Our Porterhouse mediocre, the deserts hit and miss also my confessions of returning should be based on the steak not the onion rings!
Rating: 2.5/5
www.smithandwollensky.co.uk/
Address: The Adelphi, 1-11 John Adam St, London WC2N 6HT
020 7321 6007
Closest tube: Charing Cross/Embankment

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