Smith & Wollensky – a cut above the rest

ScallopsSmith and Wollensky – you may recognise the name already, as the editor’s favourite restaurant in The Devil Wears Prada, or featured in American Psycho, or you may have been to one of their steakhouses in America. Smith & Wollensky has long been considered a premier dining destination, and after much anticipation, Smith & Wollensky has finally opened its first European location – in the heart of London.

Set in the historic Grade II-listed Adelphi Building off the Strand, it offers the same warm American hospitality that has made it much-loved Stateside, together with a menu of signature USDA Prime dry-aged steaks alongside Scottish cuts, premium seafood, award-winning wines and classic cocktails. USDA Prime dry-aged beef is butchered on site and prepxaared to mouthwatering perfection, fresh lobster is flown in daily, all pastries and sides are made by hand and the timeless, vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere envelops guests in gracious hospitality.

As we arrived we were warmly welcomed by the Operations Manager, Nathan Evans, who used to manage The Boisdale and was brought on board to open Smith & Wollensky’s first European location. His passion and enthusiasm was contagious as he told us about the history of the brand and showed us round the two storey restaurant.

From the glamorous reception through to the 1920s-inspired artworks on the walls, Smith & Wollensky evokes all the elegance and timeless appeal of the restaurant’s rich heritage across the pond while capturing the essence of London’s current dining scene.

Set against a handsome backdrop of dark timber panelling, buttery green leathers, Art Deco tiling, monochrome mural floors and glossy marble surfaces, the restaurant itself has been designed by famous interior designer Martin Brudnizki. Spread across two floors, the ground floor had an animated and atmospheric dining area with an elegant bar in the backdrop, and downstairs in the basement was a sweeping bar with a speakeasy-vibe, more dining tables for sultrily-lit suppers, a private dining room and elegant art deco bathrooms.

We sat down at our table in the ground floor dining room and started the evening with some delicious Negroni cocktails, whilst perusing the courses and wine list. Although the menu offered tempting seafood options (shellfish platters  oflobster, Dorset crab, oysters and clams), the star of the show was clearly the show stopping steak with every cut from 21oz NY cut bone-in sirloin to 24oz Cajun marinated bone-in rib steak, while British cuts include a 8oz/12oz premium Scottish fillet mignon served au poivre, gorgonzola-crusted or ‘oscar’ – piled-high with crabmeat, asparagus and hollandaise.

Our friendly and charming waiter, Ugur, had an encyclopedic knowledge of all things steak and helped us finally make a decision!

I opted for the seared king scallops with pea purée and crispy bacon to start, followed by the signature Oscar-style fillet mignon, while my guest started with a light tuna tartar to start, followed by a Sirloin steak covered in gorgonzola. Sides were not to be sidelined and we ordered some French fries, truffled mac ‘n’ cheese and creamed spinach for good measure.

Next, the wine list. Scott Levy the beverage manager helped us to select one of the best Pinot Noirs we have ever tasted!

The starters were divine and perfectly light and fresh to whet our appetite for the main event. It’s good to see that the portion sizes haven’t shrunk on their journey from America to the UK; the filet mignon Oscar style was incredible – though very very rich, and my guest very much enjoyed the Sirloin covered in gorgonzola! Both steaks were beautifully dry aged and satisfyingly pink and juicy in the middle with a delicious, slightly charred coating. You can really taste the love in the steaks – which is perhaps due to the “love juice” that the chefs use, which is essentially the back cap rendered down in rapeseed oil which is then re-added to the meat.

With little room left over for dessert we decided to share the chocolate cake – a gigantic doorstopper sized American portion which was so incredibly rich we ended up taking them up on their offer of a doggy bag – we clearly weren’t the first to be defeated!

And there we found ourselves at the end of the evening as the last guests to leave, with our cake neatly wrapped up and still clutching our delicious Pinot Noir, gesticulating wildly and happily outstaying our welcome.

When it comes to steak, wine and hospitality, Smith & Wollensky is a cut above the rest.

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