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Smith and Wollensky: The facts

This article discusses the restaurant chain Smith & Wollensky. The article will look at the history behind the restaurant and the ethos behind the food - the emphasis on dry-aging its steak and why this makes for a higher-quality meal. The signature dishes will then be examined, along with prices and reviews.

An overview

Smith & Wollensky is a chain of American steakhouses, opened in 1977. But perhaps the most interesting fact is that a Mr Smith or Mr Wollensky never actually existed – they were two names taken at random from a phone book by the restaurant's founder, Alan Stillman. History
The first restaurant – decked out in the now signature green and white décor – opened in mid-town Manhattan in 1977. Since then, the high-end restaurant chain has extended to eight more US cities; Washington DC, Miami Beach, Chicago, Boston, Houston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Columbus. Ethos The restaurant's tagline is “You've Arrived” and the ethos behind Smith & Wollensky is very much that of offering elegant food in a refined setting – a high-quality, home-grown American restaurant.

The food

Steak
At the heart of Smith & Wollensky is the food – and the love of a good steak. They are the only national steakhouse to dry-age their meat on site, as they believe this makes for better tasting meat. Smith & Wollensky choose their meat from the top two per cent of all the beef in America defined as “prime.” Then, they dry-age the beef - the meat is put in a cooler for 28 days, causing the tissue to break down, resulting in a superior flavour and tenderness. Signature dishes
Signature dishes include the steak, where you can expect to pay around $42.50 for a filet mignon or a sirloin at $45.50. The restaurant also has a strong line in seafood dishes, with cold water lobster tails setting you back $39.50. For those who are more passionate about fish, it's worth diving into Wollensky's Grand Shellfish Bouquet – a little more pricey at $119 (all prices correct as at 25.07.11).

Reviews

Reviews
The New York Times summed up Smith & Wollensky's aims when it reviewed the restaurant in 1997: “It's one of the few steakhouses that never lets you down: the service is swell and the steaks are consistently very, very good (if rarely great) and the portions are huge.” The restaurant in popular culture
The restaurant chain has seeped into national consciousness – and there's also been a nod to the restaurant in popular culture. Films such as The Devil Wears Prada, American Psycho and The Break-up have all featured the unmistakable Smith & Wollensky venues.

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