by Nivea Serrao
Dimly lit, and simply furnished, The Smith is an exercise in the classic and modern. It’s black and white décor lending it a trendy yet casual vibe. Offset by black wooden panels, the white square-tiled walls are decorated with a collection of eclectic black and white photographs – a combination of Victorian nudes and nostalgic Americana – giving this American brasserie a vague 1920’s feel.
A large party of sixteen, we were seated almost immediately at a large table in a corner towards the back. It being a Monday morning, it was no surprise that The Smith wasn’t packed with its usual lunch or dinner time rush.
Nonetheless, service was quick and attentive, the waitress handing out menus a few minutes after us having settled in. Complimentary bottles of still and sparkling water (served in old wine bottles), along with servings of cheddar biscuits were set on the table as we perused the page-long menu; it’s white on black font in keeping with the restaurant’s aesthetic.
As far as the breakfast selection goes, The Smith offers standard foods most New Yorkers expect to be served at this reasonably early hour. Diners in search of fuller breakfast fare can choose from a variety of popular egg dishes like
omelettes or eggs benedict, or opt to go with something fresh off the griddle like waffles or French toast. Those looking to shrink their waist line need not fear as they offer lighter fare, such as granola and oatmeal, as well.
Most items on the menu ranged between $5 (granola with almonds, raisins, coconut and toasted oats) to $9 (egg white omelette with spinach, goat cheese and home fries). After some deliberation, I settled on the waffles with strawberries, whipped cream and maple syrup. At $8, it was somewhere in the middle.
As we waited for our food to arrive, we dug into the biscuits. Light and fluffy, with hints of cheddar, these southern staples were still warm from the oven; bringing to mind images of loving grandmothers and large family dinners.
We didn’t have to wait long as our food arrived almost all at once. As they served us it was obvious that at The Smith, you really get your money’s worth with most of the serving sizes being big enough for two. My waffle arrived exactly
how I’d requested it: strawberries on the side and mountain of whipped cream atop it. As per The Smith’s commitment to ‘local, natural, sustainable and organic practices whenever possible’, my strawberries tasted fresh. Their crisp, tart flavour perfectly complimented the light sweetness of medium amber maple syrup I’d drizzled over my otherwise regular waffle.
With our orders came more complimentary sides, helpings of apple-smoked bacon and sautéed spinach. The bacon was the right level of crispy; it’s salty, savoury flavour a perfect complement to the lush, juicy spinach and the cheesy mouthfuls that were the biscuits.
Diners looking to use the bathrooms will be in for a pleasant surprise as downstairs by the communal bathroom sits a photo-booth. At $3 a turn, you can have your experience at The Smith commemorated in four black and white panels.
All in all, it was a great experience. The food was good, and (most importantly in New York) filling. The atmosphere was stylish, yet inviting. And the service was attentive, but not pushy. However, I would advise those looking to try The Smith for the first time to experience it during dinner. Sitting under dim lighting and surrounded by the buzz of conversation, you will have the chance to experience a wider selection of foods on the menu, most of which more than live up to hype.