To see more of Smith & Wollensky’s food from our visit to the new Boston location, view our video, below.
Food trends are always interesting, and important for great restaurants to follow. However, it is the rare restaurant that not only can do its own interpretation of the trends, but also actually set new ones.
Welcome to Smith & Wollensky.
This is the restaurant name that causes people to stop, get a far away look in their eyes, and say, “Oh, yes, I ate at the one in Philadelphia and it was the meal of a lifetime.” And, “We’ve been to the one in Chicago and the one in Columbus and can’t wait to go again.”
And, yes, those are actual comments from people not associated with the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group. But what’s interesting is how passionate those who are associated with it are as well—particularly about the food.
Boston’s Executive Chef Matthew King says, “For Smith & Wollensky, it’s always about looking at what we can do next that reinvents the steakhouse. How can I take things that are traditional Smith & Wollensky ingredients and breathe fresh life into the concept? That gives people something new within our cohesive theme.”
When you watch the video below, you’ll get a good idea of some of the popular menu items. Our favorites actually started with the bread. These circular loaves are brushed with butter and seasoned with rosemary and course sea salt, then served warm.
Move from there to a tuna crudo served on a Himalayan salt block, and you get great flavor with a little interactivity to your meal—you can scrape as much or as little of the salt as you want for seasoning. Kim Lapine, Vice President of Marketing, tells us they are adding this to all of the locations, adding, “With the salt block, we can do everything from tuna crudo to seafood ceviche to carpaccio, so we can switch it up a bit.”
The Prince Edward Island Mussels come in a tureen from which you can scoop out the mussels along with some of the sauce, which has a subtle lemon flavor with a hint of garlic. Bits of tomato add to the flavor, mixed with a buttery toast points to help soak up the sauce.
The asparagus and crab salad with grapefruit had five spears of asparagus done just right, with touches of citrus and chunks of crab—combinations you might not think of, but will definitely go back for. The citrus is juicy and a terrific complement to the crunchy al dente of the asparagus and the succulent flakiness of the large chunks of crab. As with other menu items, these are classic ingredients that are on trend, presented in a novel fashion.
The charcuterie board had cured hams, pâtés, chutneys, cheeses, ground mustard, sun dried tomatoes, a marvelous red onion marmalade, and more. The Smoked New England Clam Chowder had an unusual huskiness, with large chunks of clams and a hidden surprise of double smoked bacon that produces the wonderful flavor. The soup is poured tableside for maximum heat and flavor.
One of the more unusual dishes is the Cracklin’ Pork Shank, which had everyone angling for a taste. It’s cured, braised, then flash fried before being served with a creamy sauerkraut and pineapple mushroom glaze. Our server advised us, “Be sure to get a little pork, applesauce and sauerkraut in the same bite to get all of the flavors.” He was right—the combination was well thought-out and memorable, along with being fall-off-the-bone tender.
Of course, the steaks are the centerpiece of the menu, with some great choices including the trio of steaks, the Porterhouse for two, or the new Deconstructed Rib Eye that has two treatments of the flavorful steak.
“Food is cyclical,” Chef King says. “You go back to the classical preparations and put a modern twist on it.” That’s how the deconstructed rib eye steak—a new house specialty—got its side dish of roasted bone marrow. “People are more receptive to it,” says King. “A lot more chefs are using it. It’s very classic.”
Tom Elbashary, Executive Chef and Master Butcher at the Houston location, says his personal favorite is the rib eye because “it’s nice and juicy, and you get a lot of flavor.” He adds, “Something about the dry age process breaks the enzymes and enhances the flavor so that the juices are locked into the steak.”
Corporate Chef John Piccolino, who is in the Las Vegas location, says he loves the sirloin, emphasizing any of the steaks have gone through a 28 day dry-aging process. He says, "The steaks are stored in climate controlled ambient air to break down the muscle tissue and deliver the rich, tender and juicy steaks not found elsewhere. This is what makes Smith & Wollensky so special." All steaks are hand cut on site before they are prepared and served to the guests.
Two more examples of our favorite foods, and then we'll leave you to check out more for yourself: the Truffle Mac & Cheese, which was nothing short of delightful in both presentation and taste, and the Signature Shellfish Bouquet which can be tiered for larger groups and includes plenty of oysters, clams, lobster, crab meat, and shrimp with several choices of dipping sauce.
At the Boston location, they’ve also returned to history for the newest bar item—a Boston Tea Party Martini that gives a nod to their location on the Atlantic Wharf. Simon Ford, Brand Ambassador for Pernod-Ricard, suppliers of the vodka for the drink, says, “We made the vodka iced tea drink specifically for Boston. Our philosophy is, you go to the bar for an experience, so we try to create one.”
For our commentary on two of the Smith & Wollensky signature desserts, click here.
Some coverage sponsored by Absolut Vodka