First, I have to confess I'm not a steak person, and have never eaten anything at any of the apparently dozens of steak houses in Boston. But my husband and son are nearly 100% carnivorous, so I decided to take the two of them out for a joint birthday dinner at Smith and Wollensky. I asked for a 7:30 reservation last Monday night - and the phone person said the first space she had was at 8 pm. No biggie - except that our server told us that business had been extremely slow until 8 - when all the seats filled up at once and they got slammed. Some administrative kinks there. We sat on the first floor, in a comfortable booth good for conversation.
Wanting to save room for meat, we had salads, very ordinary in terms of style and quality, for apps. My husband had chowder, which was thin and floury. The guys ordered the 28 oz ribeye steak, one marinated, one not, medium rare (our server too explained that rare wasn't the best choice for this cut), and I got the pork shank.
The pork was an enormous portion. The outer inch or so had passed over the line fron 'crispy' to dried out pork jerky that I couldn't cut with a sharp knife. But the jar of jalapeno applesauce was terrific!
The steaks were very good quality meat, the marinated jusges slightly meatier, but not world-changing. My (frugal mathmatician) husband's assesment was that 40% of the time he could do as well with steak from the Butcher Boy in North Andover, but that S&W had to have a much better batting average. The sauteed musrooms were fine, the creamed spinach was food-processed to a thick greenish paste - I should have noticed that our server twice suggested sauteed spinach, but I thought creamed was part of the traditional steakhouse experience.
Our server was wonderful, and brought out two huge slices of birthday cake for dessert. Each slice was about the size of a small cake! And they were great about packing leftovers up - we left with two bags full because of the enormous portion sizes. Maybe I just don't get the whole steakhouse experience: all I could think was that I would have enjoyed the food at Tacos Lupita more. S&W's first floor had a very well lit, bustling ambiance - but ordinary food
Yesterday, we were at the Butcher Boy - which had a special on 'cowboy ribeye steak' So of course we had to take up the challenge. The rib steak we got was 37 well-marbled oz. before cooking. We used a lot of Cowboy Charcoal, and cooked it to medium rare. The verdict was that S&W had slightly higher quality meat, but that we got a better crust, sizzle, and flavor. And we definitely don't have good ambiance or service in our dining room! So we called it a draw, and our dogs are looking forward to some wonderful meaty bones for Thaksgiving.