Smith & Wollensky: America's Quintessential Steakhouse
Since its founding more than 30 years ago, The landmark Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York City has beef as its cornerstone, concept and reputation. Top quality beef remains the cornerstone of its menu and it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Smith & Wollensky is a Luxist Award nominee for Best Steakhouse.
The iconic restaurant was founded by Alan Stillman in 1977. He and a friend named the restaurant from randomly selecting two names from the phone book. Today, the restaurant is well-known as the location where Warren Buffett often hosts his annual charity luncheon which raises millions of dollars.
Gallery: Smith & Wollensky
Under the direction of Chef Victor Chavez, Smith & Wollensky dry-ages and butchers its USDA Prime grade beef in-house to ensure unparalleled quality, tender texture, and outstanding flavor. On average, Smith & Wollensky is aging 7-12 tons of beef at any given time. Dry aging most closely replicates the original, time-tested method that cowboys used to cure steaks during cattle drives. To accomplish this, it has a dedicated meat locker where meats are kept at a constant 36 degrees Fahrenheit. The process cures steaks slowly over a period of about four weeks in well-ventilated lockers. The constant flow of air results in a dark patina on the surface of the meat, as well as great tenderness and richer flavor in the resulting steaks.
Throughout the aging process, amino acids are released that break down the muscle fibers in the steak, resulting in naturally tenderized meat with concentrated flavors. The aged steaks are trimmed and butchered on the morning that they will be served to preserve all of the flavor and texture benefits of the process. In fact, after aging and trimming, the final product is only half of the original weight as the meat dries and concentrates. The method is the most time-consuming and expensive way to age beef, yet the results are superlative.
Stars of the show are, of course, the USDA Prime, dry aged steaks, but the prime rib is mouthwatering as well. The menu offers many options beyond the signature exemplary steaks. Guests can select from a variety of market-fresh seafood, poultry, and lamb. Menu standouts include the shellfish bouquet, creamed spinach, hashed browns and the coconut cake. The restaurant's Great American Wine List offers over 550 selections from all across the country with a special section devoted to Undiscovered Gems, which are lesser-known wines of outstanding quality.
The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group owns and operates eight iconic Smith & Wollensky locations in Miami Beach; Chicago; Las Vegas; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Columbus, Ohio; Houston; and Boston. Like the New York flagship restaurant, each of its locations hand-cuts its steaks on premises. Over the next several years, Smith & Wollensky plans to expand its operations with new locations in major metropolitan areas around the country. The company is also planning to open Wollensky Grills, which is a more casual concept.
Visit Smith & Wollensky's website for locations, menus and reservation information.
Vote for the steakhouse that you believe is the best of breed. The voting period runs through September 30 and winners will be announced on October 1.