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Smith & Wollensky

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Smith & Wollensky

MC Slim JB | Jul 29, 2005 12:49 AM

Got a late-ish reservation on fairly short notice, enjoyed really extraordinary Sidecars while waiting in the bar.

Our table in an upstairs dining room was way preferable to any of the first-floor seating we saw; I'd say the wait for this was worth it. A really top-notch bread basket; especially liked a super-salty, heavily sesame-seed encrusted flatbread. We proceeded to somewhat overorder: asparagus (easily 18 thick, undertrimmed but properly cooked stalks), excellent onion rings (I only half-believed Joanie when she said this was big enough for six; it's no joke), a Caprese salad (plenty for four, but with surprisingly inferior, supermarket-quality tomatoes).

Two gorgeous-looking meat entrees, each with a nice char: a perfectly medium-rare 14-oz sirloin (the smallest steak I could get that wasn't filet), and a big on-the-bone ribeye veal chop (considerably underdone from the requested medium, a bad mistake with a thick cut of veal).

The cellar was out of our first wine choice, but we found a decent-priced Oregon Pinot Noir on the next try. I was pleasantly surprised by the breadth of the wine list, the fair number of under-$60 bottles, and the lack of obvious gouging except on Rich Idiot wines like Opus One.

The coconut cake for dessert was huge and dryish and underwhelming, a distinct disappointment. Service was very solid throughout.

At about $100 a head with tip, I'd call this a C+/B- kind of luxury steakhouse experience, with far too many little misfires, mostly on the kitchen's part, for this price point. Hardly, as they love to quote Riechl, "a steakhouse to end all arguments", but a small notch above the many sub-par outings I've had at other high-end chain outlets in Boston.

I still think most of these places are for suckers and expense-account types entertaining unadventurous clients. I can't imagine hurrying back here when places like the Grotto can floor me at half the cost. We will go back to that bar, though; Michael has some real talent with a shaker, and charm to boot.

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