Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Gary, Rob, and Evil Ronnie for lunch at S&W. I was the only one who had never been. Great food and even better company.
When I arrived, Gary and Ron were sitting at the bar, where Gary had tumbler of a fine single malt (the name escapes me). I bring this up because he didn't ask for a double and he had what must be one of the most generous pours in Chicago from a very friendly, Irish barkeep. For the record, Gary didn't come close to putting a dent in it.
We had Cobb salad and crab cake to start. Very nice Cobb with a very tasty dressing. While we all enjoyed the crab cake with it's remoulade, at $12 per it was suggested that it should be mostly lump, but was not.
Three of us had the excellent roast beef hash and the lone dissenter had a burger with blue cheese. Trimmings from the wonderful dry aged (for three weeks in house) bone in rib eyes supply the beef and along with great quality Idaho russets make up the best hash I've ever had. Served in a cast iron skillet under a couple of perfectly poached eggs. Gary said the burger was in it's usual top form. We also had some onion rings and batter fried zucchini which were also very well executed. We received very good service, possibly because of the presence of the mayor (who may have been recognised).
Ron sent his regards back for Chef Hans, but since he happened to be out, Chef Hans Jr. came out to greet us. Hans volunteered tour of the operation which we jumped at. Very impressive. It was pretty cool to be standing in the dry age room, with it's .5 million dollars of prime meat capacity, experiencing the 'tang' of the aging beef and lamb hanging in the air. On our tour, Hans mentioned a few times how good their hash was (which we all agreed with) because of the ingedient quality. Hans was asked for his favorite cut. I was surprised that he replied the cajun marinated bone in rib eye. The dry aged rib eye is marinated for a week in a cajum marinade which he proclaimed gave great flavor and texture. Personally, I don't think I would have picked a cut that was marinated, after all of that fabulous aging. I would love to hear any comments if anyone else has had this steak there. Gary was disappointed that he forgot his digital camera. Besides the money invested in the facilities, which include four kitchens and multiple dining rooms, their is a lot invested in the large quantites of top quality ingredients and wines. Hans said they had over 450 reservations for yesterday evening (a Monday), plus walk-ins. Another facinating event facilitated by a hound.
After a long afternoon of tasting many, many great Washington State wines at the Museum of Contempory Art, I ended my long, really tough day ;) at Le Colonial for dinner. LC was also packed on a Monday night; we waited about an hour for a table without a reservation. While I thought the the dishes that I tried were from good to very good, I'm glad I didn't have to pick up the tab. I didn't feel that it was a very good value.
Smith & Wollensky
318 N. State
11:30 to 11, 7 days a week and until 2am in the grill