Monday, February 2, 2015

Smith & Wollensky Food Review

Wollensky’s Butcher Burger

There's something oh-so-comforting about an old school, topflight restaurant like Smith & Wollensky. Tried-and-true, S&W specializes in steaks... really, really good steaks; so leave it to me to order a burger, in addition to a staple item (Split Pea Soup) and something novel (Cup O' Bacon.) Something old, something new... All of it good.

While I promise to return and chime in on their aforementioned steaks, there's still plenty to talk about this go-around. Let's start with complimentary bread, or in this case a giant pull-apart roll with the creamiest butter this side of the Mason-Dixon line. I reluctantly called it quits after three portions; but give me carte blanche, and I could devour four or five full rolls.

Wollensky’s Famous Split Pea Soup

Lucky for me, I was just getting started. Their soup du jour sounded awfully tempting (Cream of Asparagus) but how could I say no to my first cup of Wollensky's Famous Split Pea Soup? I've had pea soup before (it's good) but S&W's presentation, coupled with unrivaled taste makes this a must-have item for lunch or dinner. My server Didier (great guy) poured it tableside with croutons on the side. Pea green may not look delicious; but trust me, two sips and you'll be hooked. Me? I didn't stop long enough to notice the croutons, yet alone add them to the mix. Three minutes, and my bowl was empty: That has to be some kind of record, don't you think?

French Fries

Smith & Wollensky has been paying homage to bacon of late (shouldn't we all?) so I decided to "bite the bullet" and spring for a $10 side of Beef Bacon. Six generous slices, literally sticking out of a mason jar with a side of blue cheese sauce for dipping. Cooked to various degrees, my favorite slices were salty, syrupy (maple?) and chewy/crunchy... literally to die for. I once had bacon-on-a-stick at an Orioles game at Camden Yards; but this dish is that item on steroids. Everything's better with bacon... even plain 'ol bacon.

Beef Bacon with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

To be fair, you probably could have stuck a fork in me at this point. On the heels of an adventurous Super Bowl Sunday, I was far from hungry; but my main entree Wollensky's Butcher Burger was still to come. Before commenting on what could be the BIGGEST burger in DC, allow me a moment to heap praise on Didier and the kitchen for setting a perfect pace to the meal. All too often, I order multiple items, only to have an inexperienced server bring everything at once. Didier looks like he's been doing this for a long time... which was probably the last time he made a careless mistake. S&W has a reputation for great service, and today was no exception. Bravo Didier!

Complimentary Bread & Butter

The burger is attractively priced (literally a steal at just $13) and comes with a huge pickle, cole slaw and hot French fries. Did I mention how BIG it is? Half-a-pound qualifies as such: This burger came dangerously close to a pound, if not more. Thank goodness I have a big mouth. To be fair, it's a mouthful, and requires a certain level of skill to eat properly. Even cutting it in half (sacrilegious, I know... but some folks do it) doesn't help all that much. Add two more strips of bacon, a thick slice of tomato and lettuce, and you'll be thanking your stars for its soft roll... Otherwise, it wouldn't fit at all. The meat is mighty flavorful too; and I passed on cheese and mayo (normally an invitation for a dry burger.) Cole slaw is creamy (perhaps too creamy) but makes a great addition to an already heaping plate. Fries arrive hot, and under separate cover. Mine had the perfect amount of seasoning and crispiness (despite no oily taste, another plus.)

Atmosphere is wonderful; although it may feel a tad dated, if you're used to dining at more modern eateries. Think dark woods, comfy leather booths, white tablecloths and assorted knick knacks all over the place. Music (a mix of Motown and artists like Joe Cocker) plays at a perfect decibel, and servers slip in and out without a hint of obtrusiveness. Warning: Steaks can be pricey... My burger was the lowest price non-starter on the menu, but you can also order a delicious Signature Steak Sandwich for a deuce ($20, just in case you don't play poker.) Check back in a month or two for our steak review: I may have to save up for it, but something tells me it's gonna be worth every penny. Today's meal certainly was.