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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Smith & Wollensky

     It seems that everyone is familiar with this steakhouse except me, so John's birthday seemed the perfect opportunity to check it out, especially since steak is the best way to lure him into another foodie adventure. The location is the first thing this restaurant has going for it. It sits right on the edge of South Pointe, the southernmost tip of Miami Beach.
     The ocean views from their outdoor seating or the tables situated near the expansive windows are tropical and invigorating. High-rise condos tower on the other side of the inlet, jet skis cut white foam gashes on the turquoise water, fitness lovers walk, jog or ride bikes on a boardwalk framed by monumental rocks.
   
     I began lunch with a Blood Orange Mimosa and loved the Prosecco fizz, but being the unsophisticated drinker that I am, I couldn't take the added bitterness of the blood orange taste. This is in no way an indictment on the drink, but more on my juvenile preference for sweet alcoholic beverages. If it doesn't taste like a liquid Jolly Rancher or Tootsie Roll, I check out. Hubby was happy to finish the Mimosa for me.
     Their table bread is scrumptious. A flower-shaped loaf of meaty, sweet bread with just a hint of glaze, sprinkled with rosemary and Kosher salt, and served warm with whipped butter on the side. Oof! Too good!
     There was no question that we would be sampling their beef as that is what they're known for, and I don't think any establishment should call itself a 'steakhouse' if it can't deliver superb beef consistently. Both of us chose the Filet Mignon, medium-cooked, but prepared differently. John ordered it charbroiled and I the Gorgonzola-crusted. Smith & Wollensky is a steakhouse, alright. Their medium-cooked is a perfect shade of pink, as it should be, John's steak had the expected thin layer of charbroiled crust, and the beef is conservatively seasoned so "meat tastes like meat", like Hubby says.
     The Gorgonzola 'crust' on my steak turned out to be a creamy cover that wasn't too much or too little, but the ideal amount for each bite of meat to be complemented by the assertive flavor of the cheese. Every morsel of that steak was magic in my mouth.
     We ordered a sharing portion of Creamy Corn with Manchego as a side that I found silky and flavorful. Hubby didn't appreciate the presence of scallions and red peppers. His argument is that corn should not be in the company of other vegetables.  Uh... John, meet succotash.
     This was one instance in which I would make sure not to skip dessert. S&W's Coconut Layer Cake came with high recommendations and I was intent on trying it. Several components promised to make this cake extraordinary. The sponge cake is infused with Malibu Rum, the wafer or 'tuile' is crisp and together with the thick shavings of fresh coconut, adds a dramatic touch, and it's all served with a generous dollop of heavenly homemade coconut whipped cream. Sounds good, right? Not so fast. Sadly, the one weak link was the most critical- the sponge cake. It wasn't evenly moistened, so some bites were disappointingly drier and less flavorful than others. My mother-in-law's no-frills or tuiles coconut cake can give this one a run for its money on the flavor front.
     Generally speaking, I really liked the restaurant. They're not renowned for nothing. I wouldn't mind coming back, but for now, I can check it off my list.

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