101 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116
Have you ever eaten in a castle?
The closest you might come to dining in a castle in Boston is grabbing a steak at Smith & Wollensky in the Back Bay.
Getting there is easy from MetroWest. Exit the MassPike at the Copley exit, and stay straight onto Stuart. Follow Stuart to Arlington, and make a right turn – almost immediately allowing the valet to park your car. Coming home is almost as easy; continue on Arlington a couple blocks and make a right turn after Cortes onto the MassPike West. It’s hard to find an easier “Boston” restaurant to access.
Smith & Wollensky is located in a historic stone and brick “castle” built in 1891. Originally serving as the Armory for the First Corps of Cadets, it is listed on the National Historic Register.
Steak houses are often heavy, dark, wood affairs where you can almost sense the martini fueled business deals occurring. The Back Bay Smith & Wollensky (there is also an Atlantic Wharf waterfront location at 294 Congress) lets the building impart the importance allowing a feeling of dining in a castle.
Our group dined in the first floor main dining area, a mammoth room tastefully divided so you never feel “lost” in the space. The ceilings are very high, with natural light coming in from a series of windows in a mezzanine area.
Smith & Wollensky was founded in New York in 1977 by Alan Stillman, best-known for creating T.G.I. Friday's. There never was a Smith or a Wollensky, company lore has those names being selected at random from the New York City phone directory. (The grand opening announcements listed the names Charlie Smith and Ralph Wollensky, the first names Charlie and Ralph were donated by Stillman’s dogs). The two Boston locations are owned by a separate entity, Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Inc., (headquartered in Boston’s financial district at 260 Franklin Street) which also owns locations in in Miami Beach, Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Columbus and Houston).
Three in our party settled in for dinner, immediately admiring the tall ceilings and immense room. Our waiter was impeccably dressed in an uniform embroidered with his name. The wine list wasn’t as extensive as Del Frisco’s or Flemings…although we were able to readily find a really nice Shafer Vineyards selection: Relentless.
The menu is your typical steak house menu, offering a good mix of steaks and sides. We started off with salads (a Caesar, mixed greens and tomato & mozzarella), quickly moving to our main entrees.
One in our party went with the Cracklin Pork Shank, “a tender pork shoulder cured with salt, pepper and sugar is slow-cooked and then fried to create a crisp outer skin. Brushed with pineapple-mustard glaze and served with creamy sauerkraut and firecracker applesauce.” The presentation was amazing, (with way too much food) filling a plate. Thankfully the tall ceilings allowed the entrée into the room. It was the hit of the evening with a crisp (not greasy) skin and succulent pork.
The others went with 10oz steak filets. While very tasty, the temperatures were off a wee bit. Medium was more medium well, and medium rare was pretty rare indeed.
I had Cajun spices on mine, and welcomed the seasoning on an otherwise delightful steak.
In typical steakhouse fashion, the table shared sides of whipped potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and roasted asparagus. Our server served the sides to each of us, in an appreciated departure from “family style.”
In typical high end steak house fashion, everything is à la carte. Entrée prices were lower than most other high end places…roughly $10 an entrée less. This still isn’t a Longhorn Steakhouse for pricing; it costs a lot to run castles these days.
For dessert, we went with Pecan Pie, NY Cheesecake, and Warm Butter Cake. All were good, although I should have passed on the calories.
If a nice summer night and you’re up for a little walk, I might pass on the Smith & Wollensky dessert and head over to the Park Plaza Finale for a special dessert treat.
Overall, our group had a great meal at Smith & Wollensky. Easy access, a stunningly unique location and great food provide a winning trifecta.
Monday through Sunday
Smith & Wollensky gets a
Green Light – Go and enjoy
About the RAG scale:
Green Light – Go and enjoy
Amber Light – Use caution
Red Light – Save your time and money