This joint is home to some really excellent cocktails.
I had been eyeballing the place for a while, and when a buddy was in town and staying at a hotel nearby, we decided to go in.
Our bartender, Albert, mixed up the absolute, hands-down best Old Fashioned I have ever tasted. On the menu it is called a Winona, and is made with a few flourishes to the standard ingredients, the most impressive of which is its delivery in a smoke infused bottle.
Watch as the smoke billows out and creates a nose for the drink as you sip it:
I’m not big on the whole “mixology” thing. Mixing drinks is cool but I still call it bartending. Bartending with interesting ingredients doesn’t require a scientific-sounding name. It’s all about pairing flavors, and that’s what any good bar tender should be able to do. Albert is one of those people who takes pride in what he does. He isn’t afraid to try new things and come up with new drinks. I even told him about the Germain Scotsman. His initial reaction was “mixing peaty scotch with anything is blasphemy,” but he embraced the drink with an open mind and found that he actually liked it! It works on many levels.
Anyway, after another visit here for drinks with ANOTHER friend who was in town and staying in midtown, my wife and I finally made it over to try out some of the food.
We started with the scotch eggs. These seem to be made with quail eggs, so the ratio of egg to breading is a bit off. While they tasted really good, had good seasoning and crunch, the egg just got lost a little bit in the breading.
The dry rub chicken wings had nice flavor. If I had to guess, it was some kind of mild jerk spice rub. Very interesting. Good crunch on the outside and nicely cooked inside, and served with a celery and jicama slaw.
We also dug into the pork terrine. The meat was a bit more solid than I expected. When stuff like this is served with toast, I expect more of a spreadable texture. The taste was nice, however, and paired nicely with the mustard and jicama, pepper and cabbage slaw.
Our last savory course was the burger with blue cheese.
I ordered medium, and that seems about right to me on the inside. Perhaps just a bit over?
The pickles, bun, lettuce, tomato and cheese were all on point, but the meat was a little grainy in texture. I think maybe the beef was over worked after it went through the grinder to become a patty. It also could have used a bit more seasoning.
The new version of their burger features 4oz smoked patties and a red onion bacon jam. Way better.
Fries were shoestring style – like McDonalds (a good thing).
For dessert we tried the blueberry upside down cake. This was essentially three small muffin sized cakes served with fresh blueberries (both in the cake and as garnish), tangy orange/lemon curd, whipped cream and basil.
The flavors worked really well together, and the cake was warm and fresh. Even my wife, a baker, gave it her seal of approval.
I’ll definitely be back to try a few more items from the food menu, but it seems like the drinks are really the star of the show here. Nicely done!
UPDATE! IMPROVED BURGER & SECRET BURGER, SAME GREAT COCKTAILS!
I’ve been meaning to try the burger at this joint for a while, and, now that the Lincoln Center location is right in my neighborhood, it was a perfect opportunity.
The menu I found online is pretty nice, and I was surprised to see a full selection of all four major steak cuts. We went on a Wednesday, which is fried chicken night, but we were unfortunately provided with a limited menu when we were seated due to some gas outage problems in the area. Bummer.
Luckily some of the basics that we wanted to try were still available though, like the burger and the rib eye.
First, I will note that the sparkling water was free here. I’m not sure if that’s always the case at all locations, but I was in heaven. I love bubbly water.
For alcohol drinks, I had a local pilsner from a Long Island brewery out of Oceanside called Barrier. I love their Mr. Pete wheat beer (amazing with oysters), but that wasn’t on tap. My wife had the Johnny Be Cool, which was a refreshing bourbon, lavender and honey concoction.
The food took a long time to come out, as the place was packed for a Wednesday evening. That might have had something to do with the gorgeous weather outside (the joint has a massive 20ft wide sidewalk seating area). But at least we were able to snack on some of their nice bread while waiting. I just wished it was warm.
Here’s the burger plate, which comes with thick-cut, house made potato chips (they were crispy and well seasoned, though a few were a little over-burnt for my liking).
The burger itself was a nice thickness, toward the upper end of my acceptable stack-height range. It was a good stack with all the essentials like lettuce, tomato, onion and special sauce to keep the meat juices from soaking the bun. The cheddar was fine, despite my preference for American, and the bacon was good and crisp. The bun was a little too crisp for my liking though. It held up fine throughout the eating process, but it did irk me a bit. Switch to a potato bun, and this burger is a serious contender.
My wife had the rib eye, with me eating a generous portion of it.
Pretty good size, but the meat was not the greatest quality. It had a bit of gristle and a poor showing for a fat cap, but I enjoyed the eye meat. Especially with a little bit of the chimichurri sauce that came on the side. I wasn’t expecting Strip House level cooking technique, but the steak was definitely cooked unevenly. It was more like medium in most parts than medium rare, which was how my wife had ordered it. The picture below looks like a spot where it was actually at the right temperature:
In the end, I think medium was probably the better cooking temp, because medium rare may have left us with some stringy bits given this particular chop.
The steak came with a baked potato, which my wife said was her favorite part of the meal. It was cooked nicely and had some tasty chives and sour cream in the crease.
I’d definitely come back for a fried chicken dish or even another burger. The ambiance is great and the pub type menu items seem to be the way to go here. It seems like we may have had a rough visit because they were dealing with some gas problems. That’s a shame.
Smith & Mills is a tiny little joint in Tribeca that’s known for serving up great cocktails. They use herbs, fire, egg whites, spices, the whole nine. But what is less known is that they serve up some really great food as well. My wife and I came here and we sampled some of the stuff.
Mussels. Packed with flavor, delicious broth for dipping the bread too. Sop that shit up.
Burrata. Absolutely perfect. Soft, savory, sweet, tomatoes were juicy and flavorful, and the bread was again fantastic.
Plus, if you can get one of their pull-back toy cars to ride across the entire length of the bar, you get a free drink! Beware of the Corvette though. Getting it to generate enough speed is difficult, and it likes to pull to the right.
HOLY SHIT! THIS IS THE 50th STEAKHOUSE I’VE REVIEWED! I’ve been here once before, but that was before I started doing reviews. I remember thinking it was in my short list of favorites at the time, so I needed to come back and give it the old once-over, JP style. The verdict: not quite as incredible as I remember, but still a solid dining experience.
The flavor here was good but it lacked a little seasoning or salt. My rib eye was cooked nicely, but there definitely was a little bit of bleed-out – like that time of the month when broads start to bleed from their vadges. I think if there was more crust or char on the meat, the juices would’ve been sealed in better. They definitely let the meat rest properly before serving, so they got it mostly right. They DO have a steak sauce here that they pop on the table after you order your food, but it tasted more like a BBQ sauce to me. Perhaps good on chicken, but it would fuck up a good steak, in my opinion.
On a return trip, I tried both the prime rib and the cajun rib eye.
The prime rib was pretty good. 7/10.
The cajun rib eye was good too, but when compared with Greenwich Steakhouse, it just doesn’t hold up. 7/10.
“Plaque Steak” filet mignon for two: 9/10.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8
The selection here is all prime, and dry-aged in house – so it is nice quality. You can taste that in the natural flavor, and that might be why they are light on the seasoning. Some places don’t want to tarnish the purity of a nice cut. They have five different styles of filet, four of which come in two sizes. They have single sirloin cuts in two sizes AS WELL AS a sirloin for two and a NY sirloin (strip). Then there’s the Colorado rib steak, a Cajun marinated rib steak, a prime rib, and a porterhouse for two. Last, they have “sliced steak Wollensky” in two sizes as well, which is another sirloin of some kind. That’s a lot of fucking beef to choose from.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
My steak was 28oz, bone-in. That’s a good-sized slab of meat on the bone – like Lexington Steele. I didn’t ask about the sizes of the other cuts. I’m sorry about that, assholes. Plating was basic steakhouse styling.
Prices here range from $45 to $54 for proper cuts of steak. The Colorado rib steak, which I had, came in on the higher side of that range at $53. It’s a bit high compared to other joints. Was it worth the money? Well… I guess. I can say yes if you are a purist. If you are like me, though, and sometimes you want a little crust on your steak, then you might be better off elsewhere for this price range. I did think the crab claw was over-priced, though it was delicious. I was hoping for a little more than one claw – like maybe an entire crab.
The bar here is nice, and it reminded me of Keen’s a little, though not quite as incredible. It has an old feel, it smells like a bar, and the bartender is fancied up with some nice attire and even has an Irish accent. The martini was made perfectly, and came with three unpitted castelvetrano olives instead of your normal bullshit cocktail olives. Very nice – almost worth the $14 you pay for it (before tax & tip). I will be honest though – I hate NYC’s east side, bottom to top, but especially midtown. I never hang out there, and I most likely wouldn’t go there just for the bar unless I lived in that area (which I would never do). So there you have it.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
Our waiter didn’t read us any specials, so I was assuming there were none… until we overheard another waiter take a surf & turf order. I have a feeling my wife might have ordered that had we known about it. It wasn’t on the menu if it was a special – I’ll chalk that up to a service mishap. For other meats, they had braised short rib, lamb chops (which my wife ordered), roasted veal chops, and lemon pepper chicken. The lamb chops were thick and juicy, and cooked nicely – not too gamy. They came with an utterly horrific mint jelly (on the side, thank God), which tasted like melted mint gumdrops – those big, granulated sugar covered ones that you get from a crystal candy dish at your dead grandmother’s house. Mildly reminiscent of tooth paste. Fuck that shit.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7
To start, I had the colossal Florida stone crab, which to my dismay was just a claw and not a full crab. It was absolutely delicious though. My wife had the famous split pea soup, which was very smooth and tasty, but ultimately nothing to rave about. On the side we had creamed spinach. I had heard good things about it here, but I wasn’t impressed. I prefer a leafier creamed spinach in general, but I am not opposed to the pureed type. Here it was pureed, but I thought it lacked punch. It was nice when you slathered it on your meat and took a combo bite though. For dessert we shared a disappointing slice of the bourbon pecan pie. The nutty top part was nice, but the inside was a little too gelatinous and fake tasting. It just didn’t compare to the walnut pecan pie at Sparks.
Seafood Selection: 9
There is a ton of seafood here. In addition to a full array of shellfish and regular fish for cold apps (tuna tartare, clams, oysters, shrimp, crab claws, crab cakes, lump crab meat, lobster, towers and plateaus), they also had a solid fish selection for entrees. Three to thirteen pound lobsters, or lobster tails by the ounce, plus a variety of preparations available for red snapper, king salmon, halibut, Dover sole, and Ahi tuna. There is even a special preparation of Dover Sole Meuniere. But seriously – three different crab apps available here?!?? I almost made some warm jellyfish in my pants. Our waiter told us that the seafood “bouquet” contained 12oz of lump crab meat (Is that a fucking mistake??!? That’s HUGE!), six jumbo shrimp, and lobster (I’m guessing half of a 1.5lb fucker). As I said above, the crab was awesome – just over-priced for a relatively small portion.
The service was great. Well – let me rephrase and elaborate. The hospitality was INCREDIBLE, but the service was just good. First the negatives – and these are very minor, mind you: (1) We weren’t told about the surf & turf item. (2) I WOULD have ordered a beer to go with my steak but the waiter was sort of unseen after he took our orders. I still had half of my martini from the bar when we sat. My wife ordered a glass of wine, but I wasn’t ever asked for a refresher on my drink. No biggie – it saved me $8. Now for the positives: (1) They didn’t charge us for the pecan pie dessert. It was “on the house” as a gift for my wife, since we let them know the dinner was to celebrate her birthday when we made the reservation. That was awesome – especially since we didn’t really like it all that much anyway. It even came with a candle on top. (2) They have a guy opening and holding the door for you on the way out, and he will even hail a cab for you. I thought this was nice and classy. (3) I was given a hot, damp towel after I finished my crab appetizer. Let’s see – what else… the table bread wasn’t warm, but it was tasty – and came with a good variety of stuff to pick at, like the crispy flat bread, raisin nut bread, Italian bread, pretzel bread, and some sesame seed rolls. The butter was a little too cold to spread on anything though.
The wait staff are all dressed nicely – mainly men as far as I could tell – in suit jackets. The decor was that of a traditional steakhouse. It had exposed brick in some parts, and a cream/tan colored paint job on the others, with old photos and artwork hanging throughout. It reminded me of what Ben Benson was like – even down to the bull head meat sign hanging in the main dining room. The bathroom was nice and clean, all marble, with shelves of thick hand towels for drying. Apparently one guy found it nice enough to drop a deuce in there, because he was laying some underwater cable while I was taking a piss. I should have taken a picture of his pants wrapped around his ankles from under the stall door.
UPDATE: EARLY 2019
I now have a plaque on the wall here, thanks to the fact that my buddy is a waiter and the manager remembers me from way back in 2013 when he was at Quality Italian.
It’s right above the entryway into the main dining room. Anyway, a few items to report on:
The lemon-pepper roasted chicken is absolutely fucking amazing:
That is a best of 2019 dish for me.
The oysters and clams on the half were excellent. Nice and fresh.
Another best of 2019 item is the strawberry cake that comes with an ice cream cone. Crack!