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Smith and Wollensky, a New York Steakhouse Chain on 19th & M Streets Downtown - Chef Nick Gough Departs for Boston - Closed


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Smith & Wollensky on the menu for last night. I'd definitely go there again for RW. We had great service and great food. There was none of that "red-headed stepchild" feeling you get at some restaurants during RW. We weren't rushed (in fact, it took us quite a while to get the bill settled!) and our server was gracious.

I had:
-Blue Point oysters
-Casear salad
-Filet mignon (served w/ wild green and matchstick frites as sides and Béarnaise sauce)
-Cheesecake

My gripe: slim menu selection. I wish there was more to choose from for the apps than just 2 salads and pea soup. The desserts were carrot cake, cheese cake or fresh fruit. It would've been nice to mix it up a bit and have some originality but the filet made up for it...a bit.

The filet was very good & tender - suprising considering you'd expect restaurants to skimp on the quality of the meat during RW. Perhaps we didn't get the center cut filet but whatever cut of filet we got, it was great.

The oysters were good - large and fleshy. Are Blue Points supposed to be more "earthy"? (In a good way!) I like my oysters briney and salty with a crisp finish. Eh, it's just me.

Tomorrow, Ten Penh and Saturday Cafe MoZu.

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SEPTEMBER 25-29, 2006

10 WINES FOR $10 WITH LUNCH

Anybody going next week? I'm going on monday and this is my first experience at the DC restaurant. I've had really good experiences in Chicago and assume the setup will be similar.

I was in Manhattan last year and mistakenly walked into S&W's on 3rd Avenue during wine week for lunch. Well, I walked in on purpose, but didn't realize it was wine week. I have never in my life been in a restaurant with so many seriously drunk people all shouting at the top of their lungs. It was so busy that the restaurant had run out of all the wines except the 2 least desirable.

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SEPTEMBER 25-29, 2006

10 WINES FOR $10 WITH LUNCH

Anybody going next week? I'm going on monday and this is my first experience at the DC restaurant. I've had really good experiences in Chicago and assume the setup will be similar.

I'm trying to rally some folks from the office to head over...does anybody know if it's just a mob scene? should we try to go on like wed/thurs instead of friday?

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Friday is by far the busiest day. Also, don't go there expecting to taste Harlan Estate or Araujo. smile.gif

I have no idea what either of those are, so I don't think I'll be let down smile.gif I never drink wine, so any excuse like this where I can start to make minor inroads of wine knowledge...

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I walked into Smith and Wollensky tonight a touch on the casual side. It's the norm for gentlemen to be in a suit and tie, and I was wearing a polo shirt and slacks (not jeans). After a friendly welcome (and a quick glance), I said I was just going to the bar for a drink, and an older gentleman - perhaps the Maître d' - "mentioned" that the bar in back was also open. I took the hint (without offense), headed left, and took a seat at a completely empty bar.

It quickly dawned on me that, although this bar was up-and-running, with, I will add, two flatscreen TVs (ahem), this was being used mainly as a service bar - the one where restaurant customers would get their drinks filled. As a result, despite me being the only customer sitting here, the lone bartender was pretty busy. Unfortunately, there's a pretty good reason he was working the service bar: not much in the way of interpersonal skills, especially considering I was about to be his biggest (and only) tip of the night.

"I'll be with you in a few minutes," he said, and when he finally got around to me, I ordered a draft Goose Island IPA ($7.00 for about a 10-ounce pour), then waited for a menu.

For an appetizer, I decided on something fairly novel for such a stodgy restaurant: Tuna Crudo on a Himalayan Salt Block ($17). This was a nice dish, with high-grade tuna, about six good-sized pieces (the menu says it's sliced thin, but it isn't), half of them medium-fatty, the other half quite lean. Accompanied by a salad of what I think was watercress and enoki mushrooms, drenched in olive oil, the whole thing came served on an ingot of Himalayan salt, the size of an Englehard Silver Bar and weighing about 3-4 pounds. Indeed, it was a pure block of salt, but was so hard that it was difficult to scrape any off. Ironically, the salad was undersalted, making me feel like the exact opposite of a man dying of thirst on a raft in the ocean. As Coleridge wrote:

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

To put the service in perspective, when I had finished my appetizer - which I recommend trying if you don't mind spending the money - I walked upstairs to visit the restroom. Before I left, I said that I'd love a glass of Bulleit 95 Rye ($14) with my entree which I ordered at that time. "Neat or on the rocks?" my bartender asked. "Neat, with one ice cube on the side," I said. When I came back down, several minutes later, the bartender was behind the bar, not working on any service drinks, and both my empty plate and empty beer glass remained right where they were, my napkin was on the chair where I left it, and there was no glass of rye to be found.

I took a seat, my bartender replaced my silverware, and I said, "I'd love that glass of Bulleitt when you get a moment." He put the glass down on the rubber matrix thing behind the bar, alongside a second glass with two ice cubes, and tilted the bottle to pour my drink. As he was pouring, I said to myself, "Your tip's on the line. Your tip's on the line. Your tip's on the line." After an unbelievably miserly pour, he stopped, and my heart sank. Then, he pulled the oldest bartending trick in the book: he "decided" to top it off with a second pour, and just as my heart began to rise again, he stopped, the second pour amounting to only a dribble. It was a cheap, crummy pour, and I was his only customer of the night. Yeah, you know, I hate to sound petty, but that pissed me off. He was hoping the pour was small enough where I'd order a second one, but I wasn't going to. Also, for the first time in memory, a bartender finished pouring a drink, then walked away and started doing something else, leaving it on the rubber matrix, and not offering it to me. I honestly didn't know what to do: should I reach across and take it, or would that be rude? Well, after about fifteen seconds, I reached across and took it.

My appetizer was good enough where I decided to make it a tuna evening. Wasabi Crusted Tuna ($32) was a plate of three *huge* pieces of tuna - each the size of a petit filet mignon - cooked slightly above the rare doneness that I'd requested, and served with bok choy and carrots on top of a pomegranate black garlic sauce, with a little tub of needless wasabi (which seemed powdered) on the side. Although I had a strong preference for my crudo, this was a good dish, and despite the price, was a good value for the money - it was a humongous portion of tuna. The runner who served me my entree asked me if I'd like a glass of ice water. I said yes, with genuine appreciation, and wondered why I hadn't gotten one thirty minutes before.

My bill, before tax and tip, was $69 for two drinks, an appetizer, and an entree. My bartender got a $13 tip, as opposed to the $14 I'd normally leave. It was a subtle swipe, but a swipe nonetheless. He could have, and certainly should have, been more attentive to his only customer of the evening. The food at Smith and Wollensky on this evening was pretty good; the service left much to be desired. Let me make myself clear here: my bartender seemed like a decent fellow; he just wasn't a very good bartender.

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I took a seat, my bartender replaced my silverware, and I said, "I'd love that glass of Bulleitt when you get a moment." He put the glass down on the rubber matrix thing behind the bar, alongside a second glass with two ice cubes, and tilted the bottle to pour my drink. As he was pouring, I said to myself, "Your tip's on the line. Your tip's on the line. Your tip's on the line." After an unbelievably miserly pour, he stopped, and my heart sank. Then, he pulled the oldest bartending trick in the book: he "decided" to top it off with a second pour, and just as my heart began to rise again, he stopped, the second pour amounting to only a dribble. It was a cheap, crummy pour, and I was his only customer of the night. Yeah, you know, I hate to sound petty, but that pissed me off. My bill, before tax and tip, was $69 for two drinks, an appetizer, and an entree. My bartender got a $13 tip, as opposed to the $14 I'd normally leave. It was a subtle swipe, but a swipe nonetheless. He could have, and certainly should have, been more attentive to his only customer of the evening. The food at Smith and Wollensky on this evening was pretty good; the service left much to be desired. Let me make myself clear here: my bartender seemed like a decent fellow; he just wasn't a very good bartender.

If you want a stiff drink go to Stan's on Vermont Avenue. That place has maintained a reputation for stiff drinks for at least 30 years. (I can personally attest to the first ten of those last 30--;) and have heard the same thing on an off for the last 20 years.

Now that is consistency. :D

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If you want a stiff drink go to Stan's on Vermont Avenue. That place has maintained a reputation for stiff drinks for at least 30 years. (I can personally attest to the first ten of those last 30-- ;) and have heard the same thing on an off for the last 20 years.

Now that is consistency. :D

Not to get off topic, but I recall Stan's. You'd get a big glass of booze, and a bottle of tonic to mix in as you wished. Now that's a drink!

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Reason number 931 why people, or management, are stupid.

I felt like drinking at lunch today, that is what happens when you are at the client site and almost everyone decides to turn a three day weekend into a four day one. So, I walk outside and see Smith and Wollensky across the street, I figure that I can get some good drinks there and a decent burger at the bar.

So, I walk into the bar at 12:15 PM, I am the only one there other than the bartender. I take my coat off, sit down in a seat and he pours me some water. I ask him what kinds of rye he has and he rattles off five or six different kinds. I tell him that I will think about it while I look at the menu. I ask about Wollensky's Butcher Burger and he seems disgusted to have to explain it to me (why I should magically know that it comes with bacon, cheddar cheese, fries and cole slaw without saying that on the menu is beyond me). Shaking that off, I ask him if I can have that with mixed greens instead of the fries or cole slaw and he says adamantly, "No." I state that I am willing to pay more for it because I am on a diet and cannot eat the fries and he says, "You can order a salad from the menu, but we don't do side salads."

I think for about 10 seconds and say to myself, "Fuck this!", put on my coat and walk out the door. I believe that this is the first time that I have ever done this, I may have done it before, but I don't recall if I have.

From my point of view, this guy missed out on at least a $60 check ($13 for the burger, $2 for the mixed greens, $45 for 3 drinks) and a $12 to $15 tip. I think that he, and the restaurant, would appreciate that in a large bar with zero patrons in it. He also missed out on making a customer happy, a customer that will be at this client for another six weeks, and a customer that will spend whatever the hell he wants on lunch or happy hour.

From his point of view, he probably thought that I was a cheap skate that was unwilling to pay $9 for one of their salads, and that I was misplaced in such a grand and historic restaurant like Smith and Wollensky.

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Reason number 931 why people, or management, are stupid.

I felt like drinking at lunch today, that is what happens when you are at the client site and almost everyone decides to turn a three day weekend into a four day one. So, I walk outside and see Smith and Wollensky across the street, I figure that I can get some good drinks there and a decent burger at the bar.

So, I walk into the bar at 12:15 PM, I am the only one there other than the bartender. I take my coat off, sit down in a seat and he pours me some water. I ask him what kinds of rye he has and he rattles off five or six different kinds. I tell him that I will think about it while I look at the menu. I ask about Wollensky's Butcher Burger and he seems disgusted to have to explain it to me (why I should magically know that it comes with bacon, cheddar cheese, fries and cole slaw without saying that on the menu is beyond me). Shaking that off, I ask him if I can have that with mixed greens instead of the fries or cole slaw and he says adamantly, "No." I state that I am willing to pay more for it because I am on a diet and cannot eat the fries and he says, "You can order a salad from the menu, but we don't do side salads."

I think for about 10 seconds and say to myself, "Fuck this!", put on my coat and walk out the door. I believe that this is the first time that I have ever done this, I may have done it before, but I don't recall if I have.

From my point of view, this guy missed out on at least a $60 check ($13 for the burger, $2 for the mixed greens, $45 for 3 drinks) and a $12 to $15 tip. I think that he, and the restaurant, would appreciate that in a large bar with zero patrons in it. He also missed out on making a customer happy, a customer that will be at this client for another six weeks, and a customer that will spend whatever the hell he wants on lunch or happy hour.

From his point of view, he probably thought that I was a cheap skate that was unwilling to pay $9 for one of their salads, and that I was misplaced in such a grand and historic restaurant like Smith and Wollensky.

Which bar? The one straight ahead, or the one around to the left?

Note my post from October, 2012 where I, too, had legitimate complaints about the bar service. One strong data point can be an aberration; two strong data points can *still* be an aberration - but are more likely to be indicative of a problem.

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What breakthrough diet allows an 8oz hamburger and 3 tumblers of rye whisky for lunch but forbids French fries (which can be left uneaten, along with the bacon and cheese I suppose)? If money is no object, the menu offers a variety of salads (directly above the sandwiches) which can be supplemented with any protein. $9 + $12 for beef tenderloin lets one have their meat and eat it too. Nutritionally, the hamburger has more deficient properties than the booze and spuds combined.

The bartender is not necessarily stupid -probably following company protocol on substitutions as mandated by the corporate office- and could be praised for saving you roughly half the RDA of calorie/fat/cholesterol intake and $60 in the process.

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Which bar? The one straight ahead, or the one around to the left?

I went to the restroom first, so I may have gotten turned around, but I believe that it was the bar when you first walk in to the left.

What breakthrough diet allows an 8oz hamburger and 3 tumblers of rye whisky for lunch but forbids French fries (which can be left uneaten, along with the bacon and cheese I suppose)? If money is no object, the menu offers a variety of salads (directly above the sandwiches) which can be supplemented with any protein. $9 + $12 for beef tenderloin lets one have their meat and eat it too. Nutritionally, the hamburger has more deficient properties than the booze and spuds combined.

The bartender is not necessarily stupid -probably following company protocol on substitutions as mandated by the corporate office- and could be praised for saving you roughly half the RDA of calorie/fat/cholesterol intake and $60 in the process.

I am on a low carb diet (referred to as Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, etc.) which has worked well for me over the years (I tend to do this the first month or two of the year to atone for the overeating at the holidays). I try to limit the alcohol, because that isn't supposed to be part of the diet, but I often don't care (which would have been the case last week).

And, as I said in my original post, I mentioned both the bartender and management (or, as you put it, corporate office) as being inflexible. I understand that the bartender may have no input on the matter.

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Here's their RW menu.

My first thought was, what is beef bacon, and why would I want it?

My second thought, guess they're using RW as good way to get rid of all the beef bacon that nobody wanted.

 
STARTERS
Beef Bacon & Cheddar Soup
Grilled Baby Romaine
shaved Parmesan
Rib Eye Carpaccio
arugula, lemon oil, crostini
 
ENTRÉES
Wollensky's Butcher Burger
aged cheddar, beef bacon, caramelized onions,
lettuce and tomato, S&W steak sauce mayonnaise
Scallops & Beef Bacon*
foraged mushrooms, balsamic glaze
Beef S&Wellington*
beef bacon wrapped tournedos, mushroom ragout & puff pastry
($12 supplemental charge)
 
DESSERTS
Dark Chocolate Candied Beef Bacon
Chocolate Cake
layered with chocolate ganache
New York Style Cheesecake
with berries
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I walked into Smith and Wollensky tonight a touch on the casual side. It's the norm for gentlemen to be in a suit and tie, and I was wearing a polo shirt and slacks (not jeans). After a friendly welcome (and a quick glance), I said I was just going to the bar for a drink, and an older gentleman - perhaps the Maí®tre d' - "mentioned" that the bar in back was also open. I took the hint (without offense), headed left, and took a seat at a completely empty bar.

It quickly dawned on me that, although this bar was up-and-running, with, I will add, two flatscreen TVs (ahem), this was being used mainly as a service bar - the one where restaurant customers would get their drinks filled. As a result, despite me being the only customer sitting here, the lone bartender was pretty busy. Unfortunately, there's a pretty good reason he was working the service bar: not much in the way of interpersonal skills, especially considering I was about to be his biggest (and only) tip of the night.

"I'll be with you in a few minutes," he said, and when he finally got around to me, I ordered a draft Goose Island IPA ($7.00 for about a 10-ounce pour), then waited for a menu.

For an appetizer, I decided on something fairly novel for such a stodgy restaurant: Tuna Crudo on a Himalayan Salt Block ($17). This was a nice dish, with high-grade tuna, about six good-sized pieces (the menu says it's sliced thin, but it isn't), half of them medium-fatty, the other half quite lean. Accompanied by a salad of what I think was watercress and enoki mushrooms, drenched in olive oil, the whole thing came served on an ingot of Himalayan salt, the size of an Englehard Silver Bar and weighing about 3-4 pounds. Indeed, it was a pure block of salt, but was so hard that it was difficult to scrape any off. Ironically, the salad was undersalted, making me feel like the exact opposite of a man dying of thirst on a raft in the ocean. As Coleridge wrote:

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

To put the service in perspective, when I had finished my appetizer - which I recommend trying if you don't mind spending the money - I walked upstairs to visit the restroom. Before I left, I said that I'd love a glass of Bulleit 95 Rye ($14) with my entree which I ordered at that time. "Neat or on the rocks?" my bartender asked. "Neat, with one ice cube on the side," I said. When I came back down, several minutes later, the bartender was behind the bar, not working on any service drinks, and both my empty plate and empty beer glass remained right where they were, my napkin was on the chair where I left it, and there was no glass of rye to be found.

I took a seat, my bartender replaced my silverware, and I said, "I'd love that glass of Bulleitt when you get a moment." He put the glass down on the rubber matrix thing behind the bar, alongside a second glass with two ice cubes, and tilted the bottle to pour my drink. As he was pouring, I said to myself, "Your tip's on the line. Your tip's on the line. Your tip's on the line." After an unbelievably miserly pour, he stopped, and my heart sank. Then, he pulled the oldest bartending trick in the book: he "decided" to top it off with a second pour, and just as my heart began to rise again, he stopped, the second pour amounting to only a dribble. It was a cheap, crummy pour, and I was his only customer of the night. Yeah, you know, I hate to sound petty, but that pissed me off. He was hoping the pour was small enough where I'd order a second one, but I wasn't going to. Also, for the first time in memory, a bartender finished pouring a drink, then walked away and started doing something else, leaving it on the rubber matrix, and not offering it to me. I honestly didn't know what to do: should I reach across and take it, or would that be rude? Well, after about fifteen seconds, I reached across and took it.

My appetizer was good enough where I decided to make it a tuna evening. Wasabi Crusted Tuna ($32) was a plate of three *huge* pieces of tuna - each the size of a petit filet mignon - cooked slightly above the rare doneness that I'd requested, and served with bok choy and carrots on top of a pomegranate black garlic sauce, with a little tub of needless wasabi (which seemed powdered) on the side. Although I had a strong preference for my crudo, this was a good dish, and despite the price, was a good value for the money - it was a humongous portion of tuna. The runner who served me my entree asked me if I'd like a glass of ice water. I said yes, with genuine appreciation, and wondered why I hadn't gotten one thirty minutes before.

My bill, before tax and tip, was $69 for two drinks, an appetizer, and an entree. My bartender got a $13 tip, as opposed to the $14 I'd normally leave. It was a subtle swipe, but a swipe nonetheless. He could have, and certainly should have, been more attentive to his only customer of the evening. The food at Smith and Wollensky on this evening was pretty good; the service left much to be desired. Let me make myself clear here: my bartender seemed like a decent fellow; he just wasn't a very good bartender.

Reason number 931 why people, or management, are stupid.

I felt like drinking at lunch today, that is what happens when you are at the client site and almost everyone decides to turn a three day weekend into a four day one.  So, I walk outside and see Smith and Wollensky across the street, I figure that I can get some good drinks there and a decent burger at the bar.

So, I walk into the bar at 12:15 PM, I am the only one there other than the bartender.  I take my coat off, sit down in a seat and he pours me some water.  I ask him what kinds of rye he has and he rattles off five or six different kinds.  I tell him that I will think about it while I look at the menu.  I ask about Wollensky's Butcher Burger and he seems disgusted to have to explain it to me (why I should magically know that it comes with bacon, cheddar cheese, fries and cole slaw without saying that on the menu is beyond me).  Shaking that off, I ask him if I can have that with mixed greens instead of the fries or cole slaw and he says adamantly, "No."  I state that I am willing to pay more for it because I am on a diet and cannot eat the fries and he says, "You can order a salad from the menu, but we don't do side salads."

I think for about 10 seconds and say to myself, "Fuck this!", put on my coat and walk out the door.  I believe that this is the first time that I have ever done this, I may have done it before, but I don't recall if I have.

From my point of view, this guy missed out on at least a $60 check ($13 for the burger, $2 for the mixed greens, $45 for 3 drinks) and a $12 to $15 tip.  I think that he, and the restaurant, would appreciate that in a large bar with zero patrons in it.  He also missed out on making a customer happy, a customer that will be at this client for another six weeks, and a customer that will spend whatever the hell he wants on lunch or happy hour.

From his point of view, he probably thought that I was a cheap skate that was unwilling to pay $9 for one of their salads, and that I was misplaced in such a grand and historic restaurant like Smith and Wollensky.

It might have taken a while but maybe this type of service caught up with them.

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