Meal courtesy of Smith & Wollensky
Written by Verna G
“Brunch”, probably one of my favourite words in the history of existence, especially on a Sunday, when one is recovering from a deadly hangover. A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to be invited to try out the new brunch menu at the newly refurbished Smith & Wollensky, situation along the Strand, in the ever-so-grand Adelphi building in Central London.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were greeted by the white and green theme colours, our coats collected, and led to our table. The interior of the place is very grand, the lights slightly dimmed to a warm yellow and the patterned flooring completing the very American-esque feel of the place.
In the spirit of trying everything, we first decided to cure our hangovers with a much-recommended Bloody Mary. Despite never liking the drink every other time I tried it, I actually really enjoyed it this time – they were well-mixed and perfectly seasoned (is that a weird way to describe a drink?) with the ideal level of pepper and not too sour with the tomato juice, which was great for waking up our hungover souls. And if like me, you decide to go for an alcohol-free version, they are referred to as the Bloody Shame ;).
Food wise, we ordered the Eggs Oscar, Braised Beef Hash & Poached Eggs, and also the Black-Rye Reuben SandwichBagel. Of these three dishes, my personal favourite was the braised beef hash with poached eggs. Why? Let me explain.
The Eggs Oscar (£20), described to me as the amped up version of Eggs Royale, where the usual smoked salmon is replaced with shredded crab and asparagus really caught my attention. However, when it was served, I must say I was a little disappointed. Despite looking the part, it was a little under seasoned, and most importantly, the poached eggs on top were over cooked… The yolk was no longer runny! The asparagus, though it sounded great to be paired with the crab, was actually a bit too chewy. Personally, I would have selected asparagus tips to be served with the delicate crabmeat and not the stalky parts that I was presented with.
The second dish we were served with was the Braised Beef Hash & Poached Eggs, and you would be happy to know that the poached eggs here were runny and perfect – made up for the lack of runny yolk in the previous dish. The beef was also very tender and well seasoned, and the hash potatoes seemed to be a great match with everything else on the plate. The only thing I wished was that there was more of it, as the price of this dish was not cheap (£18) and it was listed under “Big Plates”. It certainly was not what I consider to be a big plate of food and left me still hungry…
Lastly, the final main we ordered was the Black-Rye Reuben SandwichBagel, served with skinny fries. I have to add, this was served quite late, as the waiter seemed to have missed this dish when we first ordered, so we had to reorder it and it took a little time to arrive at the table. Nonetheless, I did enjoy this SandwichBagel mashup, it was quite special and the black-rye bread was a nice touch in terms of flavour. Though, as ever, I just wished there was more filling, as this was also not a cheap dish for essentially a sandwich (£15), so I’m a little hesitant on whether I would fork out money from my own wallet for this.
Overall, the three mains were not too bad, but I was definitely not blown away with anything. In addition, somehow I felt the service was a little too slow? Maybe I was just super hungry so I was more than aggitated, but it took around 45 mins before any food reached our table. And when food was served, the overcooked poached egg just added to the disappointment that I desperately didn’t want to feel. Maybe things would have been different if I was reviewing their famous steaks, instead of the brunch menu? Or perhaps I simply went for the wrong dishes, despite being told about them specifically…
I guess the highlight of my visit was when the Beverages Manager, Scott, did a tour with us around the restaurant. Scott did a great job showing us the gorgeous venue, telling us the story behind Smith & Wollensky, and also showing us his beloved wine cellar and the special US wines on offer, as well as telling us all about their renowned steaks and how their maturing process enhances the flavour of the meat, despite being an expensive way of curing beef to be served as steaks.
In case you were interested, here are two cool facts I learned about S&W. 1) Did you know that the name came from the owners picking two random names from the Yellow Pages and combing them? And 2) did you know that the owners’ most successful chain of business is actually TGI Fridays? Yeah no me neither!
All in all, I enjoyed my visit, but felt a little let down by a few aspects of the place. Might have been our luck on the day, but the service was too slow for me, as even the fruit platter we ordered as dessert took ages to be served… In terms of food, I think next time I visit, I would definitely be trying the famous steaks instead of anything else. When I watched others around us dive into their meaty and juicy steaks, I was very not-so-secretly jealous of them… #thestrugglewasreal