If you've ever wondered how a world class restaurant creates its signature dishes and seasonal menus, pay attention! We're about to walk you through a virtual tasting.
The Food Channel is known for identifying and watching food trends. However, there is one thing that trumps all the trend watching the world: originality.
It's why the food at Smith & Wollensky is on our list to check frequently. It is one restaurant that manages to incorporate flavor knowledge, presentation and style--and do it with both menu staples and seasonal items.
We had the chance to talk with Smith & Wollensky's National Director of Culinary Development & Corporate Chef, Matthew King, to hear about the inspiration behind the restaurant's new Fall and Winter menu. It's a menu filled with on-trend ingredients like Butternut Squash with Spinach and Bleu Cheese Fondue, Grilled Wild Shrimp, and a ground Coffee and Cocoa Rubbed Filet topped with ancho chili butter. If those sound good, take a look at more of the menu, as described by Chef Matt in the video (above).
As for our favorites?
We loved what Chef Matt called "the poor man's surf and turf," otherwise known as the Scallops & Cider Braised Prime Beef. It's a dry aged muscle cap braised with onion, carrots and shallots then pulled and sauteed with butternut squash, oyster mushrooms and caramelized leeks. The seasonal scallops are perfectly seared and served on a bed of the braised beef, with a spinach and bleu cheese fondue that adds just the right balance of flavor.
The Grilled Wild Shrimp with Filet consists of large prawns grilled and served on a bed of blood orange and ginger reduction with a fabulous fennel apple salad accompaniment, plus a filet. It's one of those best-of-both-worlds dishes where you don't have to decide. The blood orange and ginger reduction adds a freshness, and the peppery fennel offers a nice counterpart to the tartness of the apple.
And we loved the new Pork Chop & Beans--definitely one of the items we'd recommend. It is a hearty dish with a ton of flavor, and the Chorizo Beans have both a spiciness and a sweetness to them that keeps that fork digging in for more. We liked it so much, we asked for the recipe, and got it--and, yes, we'll share it with you (see link, below).
If you aren't going to get one of those items--or any of their steaks--try the Pan Seared Salmon, served on a bed of caramelized leek and mushroom risotto with hickory-smoked tomato sauce we could eat by itself. The salmon is nicely crusted, with a tang that hits the senses just right. Unlike many fish dishes that are one dimensional, this one has a full-bodied layering of flavors that is smooth and memorable.
Of course--we just have to say it--you can never go wrong with a Smith & Wollensky steak. The Beef Tenderloin Trio, with three disparate preparations, is a food lover's dream, and the steak itself is consistent and flavorful without any of the toppings. Try them, though, because you get all three: roasted cipollini onion and garlic, foie gras mushroom ragout, and Gorgonzola crusted steak. As one of our tasters commented, "If I had to pick one, I'd pick all three."
Chef Matt says he considers menu innovation "the best part of the job." He adds, "As soon as one menu rolls out, I start thinking about the next." He needs to, because he puts a lot of time into development, testing and re-testing before any new menu suggestion is put in front of management. After that, it may require more adjustment, although the Chef emphasizes, "I don't show them anything I'm not already proud of."
For more inspiration, check out the photos and video. The restaurant group is already a source of inspiration for food lovers as well as movie industry executives--its buildings have been featured in a variety of movies including High Fidelity, American Psycho, The Devil Wears Prada, The Break-up and The Dilemma. Perhaps the new Fall menu will inspire you to great things, as well!
Chef Matt shares his recipe for Chorizo Baked Beans (click link).
The Food Channel’s coverage is sponsored by Smith & Wollensky.