Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Seen at The Smith

When I first moved to NYC close to 6 (eek!) years ago, I lived in the East Village for that summer. I always walked by the Pizzeria Uno on 3rd Ave., and thought to myself how strange it was to me to see a national chain restaurant in the city, especially in that neighborhood. I never heard of anyone I knew going there...maybe part of why it eventually closed a few years later. The Smith took over that space in November 2007, and has become a welcomed addition to the area.

The Smith is owned by the same company as the restaurant Jane, Corner Table Restaurants, with similar American brasserie cuisine, but a very different and very cool atmosphere. Black and white tiles line the floors, chalkboard menus are scattered around the subway-tiled walls, and industrial, iron lighting fixtures hang from the ceiling.

I was there with a big group, so we decided to order a bunch of appetizers for the table, and then depending on how hungry we were, some ordered entrees, some shared. We started with the mac & cheese, the hot potato chips, and beer battered string beans. The mac & cheese came baked in a skillet, which gave it that ideal, almost-burnt crust. It's made with cheddar, swiss, fontina, and parmesan cheeses, which gave it a great flavor.
The portion was small for 7 people to share, but was so rich that it turned out to be plenty for all of us to have a few fabulous bites.

Everyone in my group who had been to The Smith before was raving about the hot potato chips before they arrived, so I was eager to try these things out. The menu said they were served with a bleu cheese fondue, so I was imagining that coming on the side. Oh no. Picture a big bowl of thick-cut potato chips (some were thick enough to be considered fries I think!) with cups and cups of melted bleu cheese poured all over them. I never thought I'd ever say there was too much cheese in anything, but this was a first for me. The bleu cheese was VERY strong, and with so much of it, the chips/fries essentially turned into a big bowl of glop. This dish had great potential, but I think needs a little tinkering in the kitchen. I'm going to go with crispier chips and less melted cheese. Just a thought.

Along with the mac & cheese, the beer battered string beans were another highlight of the meal. The batter was a little sweet, but still plenty salty. And, the string beans inside still had a little crunch to them, not turning soggy after a quick dip in the fryer. It was served with a tasty dipping sauce that was somewhere between ranch dressing and a creamy aioli.

A few of my friends ordered and really enjoyed the Sunday special of a burger and a beer for $14, but since I don't eat burgers, I perused the menu. Pretty full at this point from going to town on the appetizers, I decided to share a salad with DC. We went with the roasted chicken salad, served with arugula, apples, walnuts, brie, and grilled onions. Good in theory, especially because I love brie and like apples in salads, but it just fell short. The flavors were fine, but there were so few toppings that it essentially was a boring arugula salad. Definitely pass on this dish.

I definitely want to go back to The Smith because so many other dishes caught my eye. And, after doing a little homework, I saw many of them have received great reviews, including the vegetable "bibimbap," the roasted cod, and the chicken pot pie.

The restaurant has a bit of a "sceney" feel to it, but none of the attitude or stotty service. Our waiter was very helpful and patient when we took a while to place our orders. The crowd is pretty young given the restaurant's proximity to many of the NYU dorms. Now that The Smith was featured on last night's episode of MTV's "The City," I have a feeling that is not going to change any time soon!

The Smith
55 Third Avenue
b/t 10th & 11th Streets
website
Menu Pages listing

2 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

Love the decor!! And yes, I saw the restaurant on 'The City,' haha :-)

Dani said...

Those potato chips sound amazing!