Wed Feb 13 2008
Photograph: Jeff Gurwin
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Located on an NYU-friendly stretch of Third Avenue, the Smith (down the block from Nevada Smith’s, and not to be confused with the new bistro Smith’s) is the people’s restaurant. The boisterous brasserie, from the owners of the eatery Jane, would be equally at home on the Upper East Side, with its young clientele, pub-grub–heavy menu, and dining room furnished with dark wooden banquettes, a black-and-white tiled floor and a lengthy bar. From the chipper waiter to the gratis bottles of both sparkling and still water, this good-natured eatery focuses on comfort, and comfort food is what works best. A starter of fried calamari “Brooklyn style,” thick rings of crisp, battered squid under a chunky marinara sauce, was a guilty pleasure. Venture into fancier territory, and the results aren’t as satisfying. Tuna tartare, despite the addition of jalapeños and black sesame seeds, was unmemorable and bland; the same can be said for the too-firm roasted cod with chickpeas and a congealed romesco sauce. Far more successful was the top-notch burger, a medium-rare patty oozing rich juices. The lengthy, affordable house wine list, with whites and reds available by the glass, carafe and “big carafe” (prices top out at $50), makes ordering vino a lighthearted experience. Desserts, however, are simply childish: mainly ice cream sundaes. The ones we tried, including the Apple Pie, with graham crackers, sticky apples and caramel sauce over vanilla ice cream, were too cloying to tolerate. But another throwback to our younger days—the photo booth downstairs—reminded us that, flaws and all, the Smith is a place where fun is the house specialty.