Smith & Wollensky

Restaurants, American Charing Cross
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(5user reviews)
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The famous New York steakhouse group opens its first restaurant in London.

A top-drawer American steakhouse cruises like an aircraft carrier: infinitely powerful and supremely self-confident. The original Smith & Wollensky has been that kind of place since it opened in Manhattan in 1977, and has since spread to other big American cities. Now the ship has docked in a two-storey space in the Adelphi Building.

S&W London looks the part, with lots of dark wood, green leather banquettes, low lighting and art deco mirrors. The ground floor is a more attractive space, for our money, than the slightly louder basement.

But even aircraft carriers, it seems, may need some fine adjustments before they’re sea-worthy; our visit to S&W, in its first week, revealed a restaurant more leaky-tugboat than mighty-warship. Food came out lukewarm on more than one occasion, and initial efforts to deal with the problems were clumsy and sometimes painfully slow. But that they were problems was recognised, and the restaurant gave us our whole meal for free. (This is astonishingly rare in the restaurant business.) 

Having eaten at S&W in Manhattan, I know this is not how they do things there. They wouldn’t have lasted four weeks, never mind four decades. So I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the catastrophic mishaps in our meal will have been steadily eliminated by improvements in training and systems.

This is only fair, because once we finally got our food at the right temperature, it was thrillingly, indescribably good. Starters were wonderful (especially the split-pea soup, £6) and mains even better. A herb-rubbed veal chop (£32) was roasted perfectly medium-rare. Better still was the burger. Coarsely cut, juicily rare, it really should be called chopped steak; £18 with a side of fries, and worth every penny. Sides of spinach and carrots were both very good.

One last complaint is structural rather than a result of newness, though. The wine list is chock-a-block with trophy bottles costing £100 or more, but almost nothing under £30. This isn’t necessary, and scares off those of us who love great food but don’t have a yacht-owner’s budget.

S&W is probably cruising smoothly now, though of course I can’t guarantee that. If it is, it joins the upper-upper echelon of London’s steakhouses. You’ll pay for the privilege, but prices are in line with comparable places. I’d go back in a heartbeat, for that burger alone. 

By: Richard Ehrlich

Posted:

Venue name: Smith & Wollensky
Contact:
Address: Adelphi Building
1-11 John Adam St
London
WC2N 6HT
Opening hours: Mon-Fri noon-11pm, Sat 5-11pm
Transport: Tube: Charing Cross
Price: Meal for two with wine and service: around £120.
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4.6 / 5

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LiveReviews|5
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tastemaker

Smith & Wollensky is classically New York in decor and atmosphere. It captures the hustle and bustle of the big apple and sets the scene further throughout with a green and white candystripe decor. 


The service is excellent; from being greeted, to seated, served and thanked on the way out the door, the staff are courteous, friendly and welcoming.


I spent a lovely evening with four close family members as we celebrated a family occasion. The starters were presented well, and tasted good. The steak, however, is a whole other ball game. With a serious line up of some amazing cuts of meat, this is the holy grail for steak lovers. Tender, tasty and cooked to your perfection, go with a hunger that can only be satiated via the beefiest of meats. Get your sides to share and this will be a meal to remember.


Smith & Wollensky are outstanding at steak and you will not be disappointed. Don't worry if you haven't room for dessert, I don't believe it can touch the main event.


A great wine selection too, this is not your everyday evening meal and best to save a top notch place like this for a special occasion.

tastemaker

Two words that describe S&W? Insanely underrated and sadly overshadowed by some of it's lesser competition!


This is possibly the best steak in London. We both shared a Tomahawk cut of steak (on the rib), with a half lobster each, spinach and honey roasted veg on the side.  The steak itself was perfect and tender, whilst the lobster avoided being rubbery, which some grillhouses struggle with. The sides were delicious too, but quite basic, by choice.


If you like your cocktails, whisky and desert wines, then you're spoilt for choice here.  They've got a great cellar with some fantastic choices. If they've got the Chateau Ste Michelle 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, buy it. Still probably the best red wine I've had.

Tastemaker

Steak doesn't get much better than this American chophouse, nestled behind the lights and bustle of the Strand. Although a pricey affair, Smith and Wollensky is a meat lover's dream and delivers big flavours with exemplary service.


With a fantastic voucher offer from TimeOut, my boyfriend and I were treated to a Chateaubriand, a glass of prosecco each and multiple sides for under £50- absolute bargain. However, if one come 'sans voucher', the prices are enough to make your eyes water, but with meat this high quality and cooked with as much love as it is, it's no surprise.


The steak was cooked beautifully, caramelised on the outside, juicy and pink in the middle- mouthwateringly tender.  But this was expected- what was a pleasant surprise were the amazing sides. The whipped potato is like mashed potato on acid, so creamy, light and moreish and was by far my favourite element of the meal (bar the steak, duh.) The sweet and sticky chatenay carrots were also a delight. The only disappointment was the truffle mac and cheese, which was a bit bland for my taste, and too heavy to team with the richness of the meat. The accompanying sauces were also beautiful, silky smooth and not overpowering at all.


The service is top notch; friendly, knowledgeable staff who are just the right side of attentive, The decor is beautiful, you could almost be in a swanky, Prohibition joint in 1940's America with the green leather booths and cosy lighting. I also loved how my glass of wine came in its very own carafe- little touches that make the whole experience special.


For anybody wanting to celebrate an occasion or just craving some serious meat sweats, head to Smith and Wollenksy for the classiest steak around. 

Tastemaker

This was an unexpected surprise. I bought a voucher through Timeout which got us a chateaubriand to share, 4 sides and a glass of prosecco each for £45. The deal was pretty good so I assumed the food and/or service wouldn't be up to much but BOY was I wrong.


The service was 5* from the get go. The voucher stipulated that you must book at table before 6.30 however they had no issue with letting me book at 7pm table. When we arrived we were shown to our seats by a friendly waiter who brought us water and both the wine and food menu, offering to take us through the options available through the deal and the extra's we could add from the a la carte.


The prosecco which we were given was tasty and we were able to enjoy while we chose which sides to get from their menu. We also asked to swap 2 classic sides for 1 jazzier side (prices worked out the same) which was no problem at all. 


Normally I would always get chips and a salad with steak however they only serve american fries which I am not a huge fan of. In the end we chose garlic mushrooms, whipped potato and also the truffle mac n cheese.


We were brought warm crusty bread to nibble on while we waited for our mains and were also given the opportunity to try a few different wines so we could pick the red to go with our steak.. The bottles are pretty expensive so we both chose a glass of red each - one at £16!!! And the other at £6. I have to say the £16 glass was beautiful but the £6 was also good. 


The steak was brought on a trolley to the table along with the sides and 2 sauces (peppercorn and bearnaise). The steak is sliced for you and then plated up which makes for a bit of a theatrics. The steak was cooked to perfection - so tender and the sauces were the best I have had at a restaurant - actually adding something to the steak rather than a sickly sweet sauce hiding a bad steak.


We really lucked out on our sides. The whipped potato was SO good and the mushrooms were plenty garlicy. The slight let down was the mac n cheese which I personally didn't think was cheesy or truffly enough. I saw salad and chips go past which I didn't think looked very good but I could be wrong!


We were so full we couldn't have dreamed of ordering dessert however I must say nothing grabbed my attention as the puddings were fairly standard american diner style. 


Overall we had the loveliest meal with amazing service and great food in a tastefully decorated restaurant. In total we paid £90 (another £45 on top of the original deal), which made for a pricey Wednesday night meal (the only reason they get 4*) but it was SO worth it.  


I would love to go again and would order exactly the same next time and the time after that and the time after that, however I just couldn't afford it!

Tastemaker

Arrived at 5.45 on a Wed, no problem getting a table even though pre-theatre. Was informed there was a problem with kitchen with only a very reduced menu being served. We had gone specifically for the burger so this presented an issue! However, from the moment of arrival to the moment of departure, the staff were truly wonderful. They kept us informed, suggested alternatives, said they could do burgers but it’d take 40 mins (we were happy to wait and appreciated the information). The food was very filling and of an excellent standard. The restaurant décor makes you feel like you are dining in the Gatsby Era. Very grand and quite beautiful. The bill was presented and within seconds the manager swooped in, whisked it away and gave us a discount for all the trouble – an action we were both massively impressed by. We left as very happy customers in spite of the issues and would recommend this for the service, the food and the ambiance.


Special Offers

3 courses & a glass of bubbly: £35

From a set menu.

Offer valid until Sep 30 2017