Brunch has always been one of those things I’ve struggled to fall in love with. It usually starts mid-morning and continues on till the afternoon. My biggest problem is I’ve never been a breakfast fan and so instead I’ll just wait for lunch. Though it was until I visited Smith & Wollensky that I realised an all-american brunch is something entirely different. It’s boozy and very meaty – much like my lunches.
Smith & Wollensky is tucked away off the side of The Strand and oozes 1920’s glamour. As you walk through the doors you’re greeted by a huge restaurant, packed with people, wines glasses and steaks on trolleys. It’s the sort of place you want to sit in all day and people watch – while sipping too many cocktails at the bar. I love how the name of the company began too, back in 1977 New York. Selected randomly from a list of surnames in a telephone directory – who knew!
Before we even had a chance to even look over the menus we were brought a small amuse bouche of mozzarella, tomato, pesto and basil leaf. Not particularly complex, but very flavoursome and it prepared our palate for what was yet to come.
Cocktails were absolutely stunning. In fact they were some of the best I’ve consumed all year. Each was so refined and delicately perfumed you couldn’t help but only get excited. The barrel aged negroni was a lovely start, with a bitter smoky finish, good bite and orange peel leaping from the glass. But better still was the Orkney Bee. A mixture of Highland Park, lavender honey, lemon juice, egg white and lavender bitters. I love lavender in just about everything, especially cocktails – but never has it been so balanced as it was here.
The most disappointing dish for me, if I’m completely honest was the salad. Not something I planned on eating, but why not. A chicken & avocado salad, with the chicken marinated in lemon & truffle oil and a mixture of heritage tomatoes and crisp lettuce – sprinkled with quinoa. Nothing wrong with the dish at all, it was just a little too simple for me in flavour. Though all of that healthy eating was completely pulverised with this plate of braised beef hash and poached eggs (though we requested fried). A little smokey, meaty and very heavenly.
Already very satisfied, one dish that really stole the show – the burger. To look at it’s not particularly impressive on comparison to these new modern burger joints. But take one bite and you’ll see exactly why it doesn’t need to look that good. A thick meaty patty, cooked medium and seasoned perfectly. Encased in a good, simple bun. Topped with crispy, smokey bacon. A coating of cheese and a little salad. I wish I was eating it again right now. A side of coleslaw and fries came with the dish, but we also ordered some mixed spice beans and truffled mac ‘n’ cheese. I should also apologies for my photos now too, it was a little too romantically lit inside for my camera.
Dessert was of epic proportions. A huge slice of chocolate cake. I’d heard it was large, but it’s not until it arrives you realise just how big. And neither do my photos really show that off. This gigantic chocolate cake consisted of a moist chocolate layer cake brushed with Baileys Irish Cream, chocolate mousse and covered with dark chocolate ganache. It was utter heaven – even if we couldn’t finish it.
We had a lovely afternoon at Smith & Wollensky and I loved how this brunch doesn’t have to really be about brunch if you don’t want it to be. They still have all the familiars such as eggs Benedict, maple sausages and cinnamon french toasts. But they also have gigantic steaks, burgers and a healthy range of bloody Marys to wash it all down with. Smith & Wollensky – we’ll be back!
NB: I was invited to review and my meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.
RESTAURANT OFFER: Guests can tuck into the monstrous 1kg tomahawk steak – a juicy challenge for even the most committed of carnivores – served with French fries, creamed spinach, mushrooms and a bottle of Viñas del Vero, Cabernet/Merlot for just £95 – perfect for two to share.