To celebrate the historical inauguration of our new president, Bryan and I decided to go to Smith and Wollensky to celebrate. We've both been to S&W's before for restaurant week and both had good meals so we were anxious to return for some good steak.
Smith and Wollensky is located inside an old castle structure in downtown Boston that used to serve as an armory as well as a medical hospital before it was refurbished for the 21st century. The atmosphere is very nice, a gentleman's club feel with oak booths and dim lighting (not sure if I would consider it romantic, but it's cool nonetheless).
Our reservations were for 6pm, and when we arrived, we were taken right away to our seats. Flipping through the menu we both decided on ordering some wine. I ordered a glass of the St. Michelle Riesling (which I enjoyed a lot) and Bryan ordered a glass of Syrah (the brand escapes me) which he thought was too "hot" (a wine term meaning the wine has an excess of alcohol). After receiving our wine and looking through the menu, we were handed another menu for a prix-fixe 3-course meal for $50. It was being offered due to the recession, and we opted for it since it was such a good deal (compared to the other steep prices on the menu). Bryan started with the Wedge salad. He enjoyed it, commenting that the tomatoes were relatively more fresh than usual for this time of year. The best part were the chunks of bacon covering the wedge. I started off with the split pea soup. I've had it before and it is good, not stellar but good. I would recommend getting some crushed pepper on it when they offer it. We also were given bread and fresh butter. Bryan and I thought the bread was excellent. It was a small pan of pull-apart yeast rolls covered in sea salt and rosemary; they were truly delicious. I don't know if this is a new addition to the restaurant but during restaurant week we were never served it.
For our main course, we both chose the Filet Mignon. I've had the filet there two other times and both times, it was good. Last night however, it was not. At a high-end steak house, you normally would not use the words "horrible" to describe any type of meat but that's exactly what both of our filets were. First, the cut of meat was not good. We couldn't cut through the filet without hitting a tendon or some white gristle. The meat was too charred on top and way too chewy. A good filet mignon should practically cut itself and melt in your mouth, I struggled with a steak knife to cut through my meat as did Bryan. The meat was not flavorful and quite bland. We asked the waiter about the cut of meat since neither of us had filet mignon with white tendons in it. The waiter asked the chef who said that it was the same cut of meat given to people who ordered off the regular menu (a thought that did go through our heads but never expressed to the waiter) and if we weren't happy with the cut, we could send it back. Neither of us did because, quite honestly, if everyone got the same cut, what was the point? Normally a regular filet costs about 40 dollars. Based on this experience, I would never pay that amount for a filet there. I should mention that we also ordered a "side for two" of the Truffle Mac & Cheese. It was good, but how can anyone mess up mac & cheese covered in truffle oil?
For dessert, Bryan ordered the Crème Brûlée, which was very good (second best thing we had-- first was the bread), and I ordered the chocolate cake, which was too dry and crumbly for my liking.
Overall, based on last night's experience alone, I would not return to Smith and Wollensky. I've had many better meals at Capital Grille and Fleming's to risk getting another horrible one at S&W. Again, We have been there in the past and have had decent meals so perhaps this was just an off night? My official recommendation though is to not take the risk and get a great meal at Fleming's right across the way.