Posted on | July 25, 2010 | 1 Comment
Time for a bit of guest posting, with Adam handling the bulk of this review (a welcome break for me!):
Smith & Wollensky is tucked away just north of the Showcase mall on Las Vegas Boulevard. It’s easy to miss the parking entrance for S&W, as tourists are constantly flowing over it with little care that you want to turn in there. It’s pretty clear from the outside of the building that you’re there, but just remember that as soon as you see the front of the restaurant, get ready to turn in immediately after it! We missed the entrance the first time around, causing us to drive completely around the block (and Vegas blocks are BIG) before we could make a second attempt at parking. Tourists tried to block us, but we prevailed and finally got parked and into the restaurant.
Atmosphere-wise, the place has several distinct dining sections. There’s an upstairs that we didn’t explore, with a more formal dining area near the back (where the main entrance from valet is located) complete with its own bar. Past this area and the kitchen is this great little pub / bar area, which is where we sat for our meal. There was a nice comfortable ambiance to the restaurant and the pub secti0on. We didn’t feel like we were out of our league in terms of attire or expectations. This is an upscale restaurant, but the bar area certainly made us feel welcome even when we were dressed down. It felt like a nice place to have some food and drinks with friends, which is exactly what I’d recommend you bring – friends – as the portions for everything here are easily sharable by two or more.
We were invited specifically to try their Summer Grill menu, a ‘lighter’ version of the regular menu, which is mostly what we ordered from (minus the drinks and dessert). Here’s what we had:
First up we tries the Tuna Tatami appetizer, which was a nice seared tuna fillet with a wonderful smoky flavor to it, nestled on a bed of seaweed salad. The sauce that complimented the fish was nice and creamy, with the seaweed salad adding a great counter texture with a good crunch. The dish is easily sharable for two or three people, depending on how hungry everyone is.
Filet Mignon Au Poivre
My favorite cut of steak, and what I pretty much order anytime I’m at a steak house. This version did not disappoint. First of all, it was infused with a ton of flavor, due to the intense peppering. And I asked for mine to be only mildly peppered! The ‘mild’ seasoning was perfect, though. The filet was ridiculously tender, to the point that I probably could’ve cut it with my fork alone. As requested, it was cooked perfectly medium rare, and it was incredible juicy. Quite a nice version.
Bone in Rib Eye
I went for the “small” bone-in ribeye with a Caribbean jerk on it. Apparently it’s not a rub, but a different way of preparing the meat that makes it more like a marinade, so you get more even flavor throughout the meat, rather than just on the outside. I must say that it was almost too subtle for me, only getting full impact from the marinade on the outer edges of the meat. I was expecting a bit more heat from it, but maybe I was just too used to how other places prepare carribean jerked steaks.
The picture doesn’t do this steak justice. This is a small, and was at least a 32-oz bone-in cut! There was over a pound of meat on it! I don’t expect a steak house to not cook a steak well, but the chef did an truly excellent job cooking this one. It was perfectly medium-rare throughout, juicy, and truly was an amazing value for the money. I realize this is Vegas and people come here to eat and eat and eat, but if you’re local like us, this is also an easily sharable dish… and even then you’ll likely be taking some home for a steak salad or sandwich the next day.
I also need to add that S&W has their own steak sauce in house that they offer if you want it. Normally I scoff at anyone offering me a condiment for a good steak, but for the sake of trying, I gave it a shot. I must say that it’s one of the better steak sauces I’ve tried. Maybe I just finally got to taste a good one.
We decided to split two side-dishes so we could try more of them. There are again two sizes you can order for the sides, and we found that even the small size was more than enough to split for two people, making them an amazing value for what you got vs. what you paid.
Truffled Mac and Cheese
According to the staff, this is one of the restaurant’s more popular sides. The staff joked that this is “adult” mac & cheese, and that’s certainly the case. Let me just say that if you don’t like truffles, you will not care for this dish. It’s potently truffled. If you’re a fan though, it’s a treat. The breading gives the creamy mac & cheese a nice crunch with each bite. You get plenty of truffle throughout.
I’m a sucker for creamed spinach, especially a good one. The thing that stood out to me about this rendition of it was that it had a nice subtle texture – not too creamy – and a hint of what I think was garlic. The cream used wasn’t heavy either, meaning you could eat more than a few spoonfuls without your stomach telling you to slow down. A really nice side dish that’s always a wonderful compliment to a good steak.
Ice cream and sorbet (blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, passion fruit, mixed berry, blood orange)
Being a local here, it’s easy to get caught up in all the crazy desserts that can be offered from restaurant to restaurant. I must admit you get a little jaded after a while because everything sounds so… epic. Since there can be a good portion of the deserts that aren’t prepared at the restaurant, we always ask which ones are made in-house and tend to go with those. For Smith & Wollensky, that meant we experienced a trio of sorbets and a trio of ice-creams, all home-made. You can see by the photo below how great the presentation was. Six flavors, six colorful glasses, each with a spoon. And once again with amazing portion sizes, this too is an easily sharable dessert for two to four people!
First on the ice-cream side we had blueberry, vanilla bean, and chocolate. The blueberry was subtle, but it’s a hard flavor to capture well. For an ice-cream being blueberry, I think this was nicely done. The vanilla bean had a nice texture with pieces of bean throughout – a nice bean consistency. The chocolate was rich and had a fudgesicle like creaminess to it. Kristi is the chocolate fiend, but I found this to be tasty and not overly sweet, which I’m always a fan of in desserts.
For the sorbets, we had passion fruit, mixed berry, and blood orange. The passion fruit was fantastic. Tart and cool and just gave you an amazing kick with each spoonful. I’d circle around the others, then come back to the passion fruit for the kick upside the head it offered. I’m a big fan of tart and that one delivered. The mixed berry was a nice medley of fruits that had more balance of sweet and tart to it, making it a nice contrast to the passion fruit. Finally, there was blood orange, which has a nice tang from the blood orange rind that must be used in its preparation. I personally found the rind taste a bit overpowering, but still consumed all of it by the end of the meal.
The staff that we interacted with were all very nice and not afraid to strike up a conversation, especially about the great dishes that they offered. Everyone was very knowledgeable, passionate, and friendly, which made the dining experience just that much better overall.
If you’re visiting Vegas and in the mood for good steaks, and don’t want to go away hungry, Smith and Wollensky certainly delivers. You’ll get great well-prepared food with overly generous portions, making it a great value for a nice meal out. For locals, go in knowing that you can share just about anything on the menu and no one will leave hungry even if you do – from appetizers all the way to desserts – and you’ll have a wonderful experience.
On leaving, the valet gave us a little bag of cookies baked on-site. I’ve never experienced before, and will certainly remember to look for it when we return.
3767 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109