Updated 24/3/15 with lots more information, including menu, wines, cocktials and more...
Is London ready for another steakhouse? The US chain Smith & Wollensky think so as they get ready to open in June 2015 in the Adelphi Building on John Adam Street, just off The Strand.
They're leaving nothing to chance, picking the Martin Brudnizki Design Studio to do the look and feel - the brief is to take inspiration from the original building whilst bringing in classic Smith & Wollensky design elements to make the traditional steakhouse design.
With room for 300 diners over a whopping 15,000 square feet, the restaurant will be on two floors. There'll be not one but two dining bars, two main dining areas and several private event rooms. On the other side of the swing doors, the kitchen will feature a full butcher shop and dry-aging room on-site. As for the meat itself you can expect imported USDA Prime beef to be served alongside British and Irish cuts.
We caught up with Smith & Wollensy's operations Director Nathan Evans to find out (a lot!) more:
How would he describe S&W to anyone who isn't familiar with them?
I think the New York Times said it best when they wrote of Smith & Wollensky simply "A steakhouse to end all arguments”
Quality runs through everything Smith & Wollensky does. The beef is sublime USDA Prime, dry-aged and butchered on the premises. Only the freshest seafood and fish are served and of course there are the unforgettable side orders – creamed spinach, hash browns & great chips all on the generous side. The wine lists are award winning and extensive with over 500 bins. Cocktails are well made and prepared in a timely manner. All delivered by warm, friendly and professional staff, in stylish surroundings. You never forget your first visit to Smith & Wollensky.
How similar will the London S&W be to people who have visited the US version?
Smith & Wollensky London will be instantly recognisable to anyone familiar to the brand in the States. The trademark livery, the menus and a huge selection of U.S. wines will make the most homesick American feel immediately at home.
What has evolved for the London and wider European Market is the use of locally sourced ingredients, shellfish, poultry and fresh vegetables and some demand for some smaller cuts of beef. The beef tenderloin, for instance, will be Scottish Aberdeen Angus and cut at 8oz and 12 oz. You will also find more fresh vegetables on the London menu with a focus on seasonality and of course a fantastic cheese trolley.
The wine list differs too. While American wine is clearly a centre of excellence, much more European wines make the list, particularly by the glass. This will provide both familiarity and value for the London customer.
What can you tell us about the interior?
The interior has also evolved significantly from the sister restaurants in the States. Martin Brudnizki’s stunning design has been driven by both the sensitivities required by the property and the increased expectation from the London market.
The Adelphi Building on John Adam Street is an iconic office block built in the 1920s in the Art Deco style. As a result, many of the fixtures and fittings have been deliberately incorporated to be sympathetic to the building. Geometric patterns and the use of marble and glass combine with Verdigris globe light fittings to create glamorous, comfortable spaces that are reminiscent of the golden age of the cocktail.
White cotton linen, silver Sheffield cutlery, Schott Zwiesel glassware and deep leather banquette seats create the perfect environment to linger over a 24oz Rib of Beef on the bone and a rewarding glass of Californian Cabernet or a great Bordeaux.
Two full service bars & dining areas over two floors with three private dining rooms (one with a smaller third private bar) means it will seat 300.
And what can you tell us about the menu?
The menu is still in development: But for any steak lover, it has to be a 24oz USDA Prime, Cajun Marinated Bone-in Rib Steak with creamed spinach, buttermilk onion rings and some proper chips.
I was lucky enough to meet legendary actor Michael Caine while working at Smith & Wollensky Miami in January of this year. The Cajun Rib Steak is Caine’s favourite, which he orders every time he’s in town (which is often during the British winter time – well it’s considerably warmer than Leatherhead!). He told me “I like it spicy”.
If you haven’t time for the full New York steakhouse experience, all of the bars are designed to dine at and the homemade burgers are critically acclaimed on the other side of the pond. Plus leave room for the layered Chocolate Cake, that is most definitely for sharing...
And the wine list will be blockbuster! Older vintages of Screaming Eagle and Opus One for fans of U.S. wines. I particularly love the Soter ‘Planet Oregon Pinot Noir’ for £11.50 for a large glass and the own label wines produced by the Girard & Kund wineries for Smith & Wollensky are excellent quality and very affordable.
Cocktails will feature heavily on the S&W London drinks list. We will have approximately 25-30 cocktails with updated & reworked versions of the classics. Even the ‘Grasshopper’ has an airing. I haven’t met many people that don’t like cocktails but what many loathe is waiting too long for a drink. So speed of service is crucial – to that end we have not only drilled the bar teams but also incorporated barrel-aged drinks, where the work is done in advance. In particular, our barrel-aged Negroni is fabulous. From S&W in the U.S. we’ve brought the signature Martini, served as dry as you like, Gibson, Twist or Dirty but all very large.
The digestif selection will be remarkable, with Bourbon, Rye and American Whiskies dating back to the ‘20s & ‘30s. All served by great, professional bartenders that have both the ‘chat’ & the ‘chops’. Not pretentious mixologists, just good people who genuinely understand the meaning of hospitality and want you to have a good time.
Smith & Wollensky will open June 22 2015 at the Adelphi Buildings, 1-11 John Adam Street, London WC2. Opening hours will be seven days a week for lunch and dinner. If you visit smithandwollensky.co.uk and sign up for our newsletter for updates, there's a chance to win tickets to the opening party.
For more information, follow them on Twitter @sandwollenskyuk