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An Exclusive Insight: Smith and Wollensky

An Exclusive Insight: Smith and Wollensky

Friday, 28 June 2019 10:55:08 Europe/London

We were recently given exclusive access to the unique operation Smith and Wollensky London. We learned what work goes into creating a flawless culinary experience for their guests.

Nathan Evans spoke about a wide range of topics including how they brought the true essence of an American steakhouse to the heart of London. 

Check out our interview with Nathan Evans of Smith and Wollensky London!

What is like working at one of the most famous steak houses in the world?

Well it’s been an amazing ride – we opened the restaurant in 2015. I had been in Smith and Wollensky in New York for the first time in 1997, a long time ago. I didn’t understand why we didn’t have the same service or tasting steak here in London. I was approached by two Irish men, which was very flattering as it’s not often you get the call up when you are already currently in a role. We met in a hotel and they spoke about their dream of having a Smith and Wollensky in London. They then brought over Tommy Hart who has worked at Smith and Wollensky for 40 years. I told the story of how the founder, Alan Stillman, and I had exchanged letters in the past regarding bringing Smith and Wollensky to London. It all seemed meant to be.

A couple of months later, off I went to American for 12 weeks. The Restaurant was then opened in the June. There was a weight of expectation on us for opening such a well-known American Restaurant here. We wanted to make sure the environment was the same and if not better than America, with the steak just as good. That was the biggest challenge really. But here we are 5 years later, growing at 28%, in a market that is very much under pressure. It is nice to be in this position.

What do you think separates Smith and Wollensky from other steak houses in London and around the world?

That is a great question - I think that at the time I went to America the first time, we didn’t have great steak houses in London, so we have been fortunate to have new restaurants open up that do offer nice New York Steaks. Now there is a lot of choice – we all offer things at the opposite ends of the market. You go to other steak houses and they are typically in the basement, you have staff wearing whatever they like because its edgy and cool, you have stainless steel cutlery and British Beef. You come to Smith and Wollensky and see the lavish interior design with waiters in white suits, silver cutlery, glasses from Germany, 518 wines on the wine list, and white linen pressed to the inch of its life sitting on the table. It is more of a service experience.

The difference is the majority of our steak is USDA beef from Nebraska. I remember when I was in America, I was meeting customers who were bringing their sons and daughters in because ‘this is where your dad goes to eat his steak’, so I think there is a big difference. If a customer is paying these prices, why shouldn't they get these beautiful marble luxury bathrooms and a proper towel to dry your hands – it’s all coming full circle. For most people, this isn’t something you do every week or every month. It’s a treat and an experience. People don’t just do it for the sake of it.

What is your favourite cut of beef and how do you like it cooked?

That is a really good question – I like all beef. It depends on what I’m doing or what kind of day it is. I like grain fed, corn fed, fillets, sirloins, ribs, the lot. I think what I’m ordering dictates how I like it cooked. I like my fillet rare as it is lean and has no collective tissue – delicious. When I have my sirloin = medium rare. A big rib of beef = medium rare plus, as you have the fat in the center to render down to become eatable. So, I like them all, but if I ate beef all the time I think I'd be fat. I think we are all trying to make healthier choices. So, for example if I am eating out 3-4 times that week I may have small fillet steak to not over-indulge, you have to make those choices.

What do you think USDA beef does in comparison to other beef – what makes it so special?

USDA beef is the top 2% of the beef purchased in the UK. Where our USDA beef comes from is from many generations of growers, so very much a family business. It is corn fed so it gives in that lovely rich marbling, butter texture and melt in the mouth tender luxury good. It’s come 8,500 miles by sea, it is then dry aged over here in the UK by our master butchers – it’s a long process. A lot goes into in, its not a cheap experience but it is worth it.

Explore our exclusive range of USDA BEEF that we supply to Smith and Wollensky and create your own #THspecialdiningmoments

Posted in Foodie News By

Brigitte Robertson

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