Smith + Wollensky London – The Strand WC2

Smith & Wollensky opens first branch of restaurant chain outside USA – in London


Smith & Wollensky has opened on John Adam Street, just off The Strand in central London. Having enjoyed their steaks in New York, we were keen to give this new UK branch a try. My birthday was approaching and it just happened to coincide with an OpenTable promotion: prosecco, tomahawk steak, lobster and sides @ £35.00 per person.

Cocktails at the bar


Arriving early, we had a leisurely cocktail at the bar. Service was attentive and my margarita @ £14.00 was made to my taste: not blended to slush with ice, and with a salt glass rim rather than sugar. K had an Old Fashioned @ £13.00. All good.

We were taken through the sumptuously decorated restaurant and downstairs to our table in the basement restaurant, where there was a business function going on in the bar area – busy with mostly male groomed suits and – we counted – two females.


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Basement restaurant


Perhaps foolishly – given we had a mountain of main course food coming – we ordered starters: crispy squid @ £9.00 and crab cake @ £18.00 (to accompany a glass of Prosecco each). The crab cake was particularly good.


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Signature jumbo lump crab cake

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Crispy salt + pepper squid with mango chilli sauce



For the main course – a sharing platter of 1kg of tomahawk steak and a whole lobster tail – we chose wild mushrooms and carrots as our two sides, all at £35.00 pp. Along with some French fries @ £4.00, and a bottle of Malbec @ £42.00. The steak was rare and tender in the middle and nicely charred on the outside. The lobster was served simply, with butter.


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This wasn’t a cut of steak I was familiar with but I’d have it again. Unsurprisingly, after sharing 1kg of meat, we were absolutely stuffed and thought we’d eaten all the best bits. Our waiter tried to tell us that the remaining burnt bits close to the bone were also good (a bit like burnt ends?) and somehow managed to cut off a load more. He was right, it was good. But we were defeated. Too full to even consider a doggy bag.

The verdict: Excellent cocktails and steak in a classy, elegant space (the footman on the door is a good indication of the level of style – bordering on stuffy). A whole host of serving staff looked after us during our meal – some better than others, and were quite full on (a continuous stream checking if everything was ok. It still was…). Somewhere to go for a special occasion when you’re after a bit of pomp.




Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Steakhouse, American
– Address: The Adelphi Building 1-11 John Adam Street, London
– Postcode: WC2N 6HT
– Nearest station: Charing Cross
– Website + menus: Smith & Wollensky website
– Photos on flickr: Smith & Wollensky pics
– Location: Smith & Wollensky map

Smith & Wollensky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Blue Smoke – Southern smokehouse New York

Staying at the lovely Conrad hotel overlooking the Hudson River at Battery Park (see my river view pics here), we wanted to eat Sunday lunch nearby on the last day of our New York trip.

Blue Smoke, a Southern BBQ smokehouse, just around the corner on Vesey Street was convenient, appealed (as in – when in the U.S., make the most of good American cusine) and served craft beers too.

Ginger crush with thyme + a root beer


From the drinks menu, K had a root beer (tastes like medicine) and I had a ginger crush (ginger beer with orange, lime, soda and thyme – nicely refreshing), followed by a flight of four 5oz beers to share @ $15.00.


Beer flight: Blue Smoke original, Abita turbodog, Lefthand milk stout + other half IPA @ $15.00




Bar: craft beers + a decent wine list


From the Southern lunch menu, we both chose a pit stop: one meat, one side and one sweet for $20.00. Plus an additional meat @ $5.00.

The meat choices were pulled pork, 7 pepper brisket, baby back ribs and backyard chicken (K chose the first two, and I chose the latter two).

The side dish options were mac & cheese, collard greens, sweet potato mash and BBQ baked beans (K chose the first, I chose the last).


7 pepper brisket, pulled pork + mac & cheese



Baby back ribs, backyard chicken + BBQ beans

My ribs and sticky chicken were as good as they look in the photo, as were the barbecue beans. The mac & cheese was well done and K enjoyed the pulled pork and peppered brisket (slightly dry though). The crispy bread was superfluous (and again, a bit dry).

For the ‘sweet’ included in the pit stop, we chose a cookie and a brownie to share. Both arrived in packaging – no frills style, ready to take away.


The verdict: Excellent value @ $25.00 (about £17.00) for such a big meal. Simple but good Southern food, with really good service and a very appealingly furnished interior.


Blue Smoke interior


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Southern American, BBQ, smokehouse
– Address: 255 Vesey St, Battery Park, New York
– Zipcode: NY 10282
– Website + menus: Blue Smoke website
– Photos on flickr: images of Blue Smoke food
– Location: Blue Smoke Battery Park map


Blue Smoke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Mudville 9 – Traditional American + craft beer New York

After a fun-filled afternoon at Barcade in Brooklyn playing games like asteroids and drinking craft beer, we explored Williamsburg but struggled to find somewhere really appealing to eat. K had already got his eye on Mudville 9 – a traditional American restaurant with the largest selection of craft beer in Tribeca (over 150 beers) – so we headed back to Manhattan. Great choice.


The restaurant was busy and nicely buzzing on our Saturday evening visit. We were greeted promptly and experienced really efficient service throughout. Our server was really on the ball – she didn’t even write down our order but everything arrived correctly.

Single portion (10) of wings @ $12.50


If ever there was a time to convert K from his dislike of chicken wings, it was here in New York, at a proper American barbecue and burger joint. We ordered a ‘single’ portion of 10 wings to share (a generous portion) with sauce @ $12.50. And guess what –  he’s converted and now likes chicken wings. Tick.

We ordered side dishes of truffle mac n 4 cheese @ $9.00 and onion rings @ $8.00.

Onion rings, truffle mac n 4 cheese


Mudville 9 food menu



One of the drinks menus – craft beer


For main course, I ordered beer battered cod sandwich platter with tartar sauce @ $13.50 while K had a bar-BQ burger sandwich platter with Bonelick BBQ, hardwood bacon and onion rings @ $15.50. Both were served with hand-cut fries.


Beer battered cod sandwich platter with fresh tartar sauce and fries @ $13.50



Bar-BQ burger platter with onion rings and fries @ $15.50




The verdict: This was a seriously good meaty meal with an excellent choice of drinks. Given the size of the portions, it was really good value too. Good, straight-forward American food. I hope to visit again.


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Traditional American, BBQ, burgers
– Address: Chambers Street, Tribeca, New York
– Zipcode: NY 10007
– Website + menus: Mudville 9 website
– Photos on flickr: images of Mudville 9 food
– Location: Mudville 9 map

Mudville 9 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

John’s of Bleecker Street – New York Pizza

Prepare to queue for John’s coal-fired brick oven thin-crust pizza

There’s always a line for John’s pizza. It’s not exactly cheap and the original Bleecker Street restaurant is quite grubby, in need of a good interior refresh. So why is it so popular – what’s the attraction?
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Tired old mural


Having visited other branches, we went to the original Bleecker Street location last night to find out. We queued – as expected – and got shouted at periodically by staff, telling customers to keep away from the door until we were eventually shown to a narrow formica-topped table for two. Shabby wooden panels on the walls were engraved with years and years worth of names and comments, while a dirty old mural of a lake and mountain scene begged to be cleaned. This wasn’t stylishly retro, it just felt unclean and in need of re-decorating.
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Battered wooden panels


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Large pepperoni and mushroom pizza @ $32.00


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Thin pizza and salad
K ordered a Goose Island beer @ $7.00 and I ordered a glass of white wine @ $6.00. It didn’t seem to come as a surprise when I told the waiter it tasted of vinegar and was undrinkable – he readily swapped it for a glass of house red (a pinot), which wasn’t great but slightly more drinkable. The pizza itself – @ $32.00 – was a good thin base pizza, while the salad – @ $8.25 – was covered in a sharp, vinegary dressing.


The verdict: To revert to my original question what’s the attraction with John’s pizza? I am unsure. Perhaps the reputation and brand is so well established and firmly tied into all the tourist guides that the punters just keep flocking? But to me, it’s over-rated. After all, good thin pizza isn’t hard to find anymore. It just isn’t, when the hay days of stodgy deep pan pizza from big chains are long gone.

But if I’m missing something please do let me know.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 2.5 / 5
~ Type: Pizza
~ Address: 278 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York
~ Zipcode: NY10014
~ Website + menus: John’s of Bleecker Street website
~ Photos on flickr: images of John’s of Bleecker Street
~ Location: John’s of Bleecker Street map
John's of Bleecker Street Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Red Dog Saloon – Hoxton

K’s only request for his birthday meal out was that he wanted to be taken to a barbecue/smokehouse kind of place. And somewhere new to us (so, not old fave Bodeans).

Given it was a Friday night and we didn’t want to queue (some of those places don’t take reservations), I selected Red Dog Saloon on Hoxton Square after doing a bit of research.


Carnivore platter – before…

By the time I arrived for our 7pm booking (the restaurant was full) K had already read the menu and fancied the carnivore platter to share @ £22.50 each. So that’s what we ordered, along with Camden IPA @ £5.00 a pint and a bottle of Good Hope Chenin Blanc @ £19.50.

The platter comprised these slow-cooked, sticky blackened meats:
~ brisket
~ pulled pork
~ sausages
~ chicken
~ sticky ribs
Plus four sides to share: we chose BBQ beans, ice-berg wedges with blue cheese sauce, mac cheese + collard greens.

All of these meats were gorgeous but the pulled pork and brisket both stood out as specialities (probably down to the fact that pulled pork is smoked for 16 hours and brisket for 12, both just fall apart and melt in your mouth).


Carnivore platter – after

This was a serious plateful for two and – as we were ready to pop – we left some brisket and chicken (declining a helpfully offered doggy bag). Service was great – speedy, friendly, and our servers were on the ball. We’d definitely go back, and would have the same platter again.

There’s also a branch of Red Dog in Clapham, South West London.


Update Oct 2016:


Red Dog South at Clapham North, visited 2 Oct 2016:


Kansas BBQ at Clapham North


Red Dog menu – as of October 2016


Wing sampler – 12 wings @ £14.50 with three sauces, we chose original buffalo (spicy hot), maple + bacon (interesting, a bit sweet, wouldn’t have again), teriyaki with spring onion + coriander (gorgeous)

Carnivore platter @ £22.95 a head: a selection of slow cooked meats including smoked brisket, pulled pork, jerk chicken, sticky ribs, beef short rib, sausage along with three sides (we chose wedge salad, mac n cheese, sweet potato fries)


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5 – based on the Shoreditch and Clapham branches
– Type: American, barbecue, smokehouse
– Address: 37 Hoxton Square, London
– Postcode: N1 6NN
– Nearest station: Old Street tube, Shoreditch (Overground)
– Website + menus: Red Dog Saloon website
– Photos on flickr: pics at Red Dog Saloon
– Location: Red Dog Saloon map


Red Dog Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Mishkin’s – Covent Garden

“A kind-of Jewish deli with cocktails”

A small, New York style deli at Covent Garden, Mishkin’s has a down-to-earth, cosy feel about it from the moment you step inside, with its exposed red brick walls, black and white diamond vinyl flooring and comfy seating by candlelight.

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Gin-centric cocktail menu

The cocktail menu is original, gin-centric and very good. J and I started with a gin sour (Hayman’s Old Tom, lemon juice, sugar, orange bitters + egg white @ £8.00) and a rosemary gimlet (Boodles, lime cordial, sugar + rosemary @ £8.50) respectively. Now it was time to find out: what’s “Jewish deli” food all about? Well, the menu offers a range of American classics from salt beef or pastrami sandwiches to meatloaf, burgers and dogs, and macaroni cheese. And some unusual salads besides – like curried cauliflower, chickpea and preserved lemon or fennel, almond and curly endive.

Mishkins sliders
Spicy chicken and lamb sliders with zucchini, parmesan + basil salad

I ordered a couple of sliders (supposedly ‘small’ burgers but they were quite big) – lamb, feta, pomegranate seeds and white bean hummus and spicy fried chicken with jalapenos @ £5.00 each, while J had a fish dog, sauce gribiche (similar to tartar sauce) and onions @ £9.00. While the fish dog went down well, and the lamb slider was interesting, the fried chicken slider was fairly uninspired. We shared a zucchini, parmesan + basil salad @ £5.00 (really good) and a portion of chunky chips @ £3.00 (pretty generous).

Fish dog with sauce gribiche and onions

Specials (both cocktails and food) are displayed on the wall. The hot butter spiced rum cocktail @ £8.00 appealed so we both ordered one (spicy mulled wine style, but with a buttery rum taste – yum).

Mishkins desserts
Hot butter spiced rum cocktail, pumpkin pie, chocolate bounty

For dessert, J had chocolate bounty bites (dense chocolate squares packed with coconut) @ £3.00 and I had pumpkin pie (well it is almost Thanksgiving…) @ £6.00. Altogether, our meal for two – including service – came to £77.06. We paid promptly as our time limit (one hour and 45 minutes) was up on the table we’d reserved.

Mishkin’s menu – as of November 2014

The verdict: Despite being a small, busy diner with a quick turnover of tables (I wasn’t a fan of the 1 hr 45mins table time-limit) Mishkin’s has a relaxing, cosy and easy feel about it. Service was distinctly average but those gin cocktails will draw me back…

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: American diner, Jewish deli
~ Address: 25 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London
~ Postcode: WC2B 5JS
~ Tel: 020 7240 2078
~ Nearest station: Covent Garden
~ Website + menus: Mishkins website
~ Photos on flickr: Mishkins images
~ facebook page: Mishkins on fb
~ Location: Mishkins map

Mishkin's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gilt Bar – Chicago

Having met in Chicago this evening, L and I wandered across the city, both to stretch our legs and find something to eat.

Au Cheval on West Randolph Street had been recommended to her (“of all the restaurants in Chicago you have to eat at Au Cheval” she’d been told; quite a commendation), and Gilt Bar had been recommended to me. At this point, we didn’t know that – coincidentally – they were both Hogsalt restaurants, a small chain concerning itself with “the preservation of food culture”.

We followed a curiously strong smell of chocolate in the air (it seemed surreal at the time but later discovered there’s a huge Blommer chocolate factory at 600 West Kinzie Street) to Au Cheval which looked small, cosy with an appealing bar area (nice craft beers on tap) but so busy that there was a two hour wait. Shame.

So, on to Gilt Bar at 230 West Kinzie Street where we had more luck. This restaurant was bigger but still had a cosy appeal with dark corners and soft lighting. It was also packed out but we were able to get a table for two straight away.

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Ricotta gnocchi @ $15.00

I ordered ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms @ $15.00 which was simply sensational. The blend of flavours (strong earthy mushroom and contrasting grilled-topped, goo-ey ricotta) made this, without doubt, the best gnocchi I’ve had (note: I’ve since been to Italy and eaten some mighty fine pasta and this still stands).

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Crispy ham + pea ravioli @ $16.00

L had crispy ham and pea ravioli @ $16.00: it tasted as wonderful as it looks in the photo above.

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Brownies a la mode @ $11.00

The verdict: You won’t be overwhelmed by an extensive choice of dishes at Gilt Bar. With their short, specialised menu they serve top quality food.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: International, gastro pub
~ Address: 230 W Kinzie Street, Chicago
~ Zipcode: IL 60654
~ Website + menus: Gilt Bar website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Gilt Bar food
~ facebook page: Gilt Bar on fb
~ Location: Gilt Bar map

More Chicago dining:

~ Gage Tavern
~ Howells & Hood
~ Spanglish Mexican Kitchen
~ Tesori

Gilt Bar on Urbanspoon