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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Smith and Wollensky, Strand

Almost forty years after serving its first customers in Manhattan, this solidly conservative American surf and turf restaurant chain has chosen London for its maiden overseas outpost. Occupying two floors of the art deco Adelphi building off The Strand, its interior looks to have been installed around the time Hoover won the White House. Cocktail fanciers have a choice of two substantial bars in the familiar handwriting of the daddy of upscale rooms, Martin Brudnizki (The Ivy, Scott’s, Scarfes Bar, Jackson and Rye etc). On balance I prefer the downstairs bar; taking up one end of a vast art nouveau / Tiffany-inspired gleaming, expensively-upholstered expanse. In the braggart US of A, things are done on a much bigger scale; hence, 100 ml spirit measures in mighty Manhattans and martinis at £16. Notable American classics include sazerac and aviation, while kirsch Cosmopolitan; Breakfast At Tiffany’s (a Chase marmalade vodka Champagne cocktail) and Ready Aim Fire (a tequila and mezcal pineapple sour) are not exactly a snip at £13 -that's around $20 - a price that would buy you  a large prawn cocktail at their Midtown Manhattan restaurant. Around 30 wines by the glass include Smith and Wollensky’s own label Napa red blend - a rampaging beast that comes in at a head-bludgeoning 14.5% abv. Bar menu standouts include yellowfin tuna tartare; sirloin carpaccio and Cajun gorgonzola burger. It's all very grown-up and corporate. Brooks Brothers suits will dig..preferably on company expenses. It feels like the sort of place US presidential candidate/ chump, Donald Trump, would have treated the winning task team on The Apprentice USA to a blow-out banquet; but will Smith and W's Yankee swagger wow discerning, spoilt-for-choice Londoners? Let's ask Jay Rayner. 'The latest big-name steakhouse to cross the pond. Pity it didn't sink on the way' mutters grouchy of The Guardian, contemplating 'an insipid Moscow Mule served in a stupid brass mug with a thin plastic straw.' Ouch!
The Adelphi Building, 1 - 11 John Adam Street WC2N 6HT 7321 6007