The Smith in the East Village has more to offer than meets the eye if you know when to go.
By: Sugee Kim
Vanilla Bean French Toast, Classic Eggs Benedict – breakfast for two
The Smith restaurant on Third Avenue is bright and airy, and delightfully warm aromas of breakfast and coffee greet you at the door.
A casual American Brasserie located in both Midtown and downtown New York City, it caters to a wide array of hungry people ranging from young, slightly hung-over college students to families enjoying Sunday brunch to older businessmen reading the paper in the corner booth.
The walls are scattered with black and white photographs and the basement has an open trough-style bathroom, with individual stalls, and a communal sink. It’s comfortable here, no pretentiousness; and the playlist is good, too.
Opening its East Village doors in 2008 and its midtown doors in 2011, The Smith has generally positive ratings on online (Yelp, Google Reviews, and Menupages). It has a familiar, home-style, relaxed atmosphere that compliments its breakfast menu of slightly different takes on classic dishes (beware of the significant price spike when breakfast ends and brunch/lunch/dinner begins).
The Eggs Benedict ($9) has a creamy buttery Hollandaise sauce between the English muffin and the ham that’s surprisingly tangy. And the Vanilla Bean French Toast ($8) is made with thick, decadent pieces of bread that comes stacked high and topped with a sweet caramelized banana dressing.
Of course, despite the short but sweet menu selection, delightfully downtown décor, and the friendly wait staff, it’s important to realize that The Smith is not a diner. It does not cater well to larger groups as perhaps a IHOPs may; by the time my group of 17 was all served the food was cold, and there was a confusing distribution of food and drink, having to ultimately re-request a cup of coffee and trade dishes with the person on my left in the mist of the bustle. A large group meant less than ideal service, but it did have perks, we enjoyed complimentary warm cheddar biscuits, crunch apple smoked bacon, and side of sautéed spinach.
Still, I’ve found that at The Smith, sometimes first impressions are not the last impressions and that second chances are indeed, worth giving. On a rainy Saturday morning, a friend and I were scouring downtown for coffee and a full breakfast.
The restaurant was scattered with a few patrons, and we were quickly whisked to a front table, served coffee, and given complimentary biscuits in the first ten minutes. This time, the food was the perfect temperature, the service was readily available and I don’t remember seeing the bottom of my coffee mug.
This is not a restaurant for larger groups where more is merrier (unless it’s Friday night and the end to your long weekday). But it may be where smaller parties can peacefully enjoy a delicious breakfast made with local produce, a hot cup of coffee, great service, and seasonal side dishes at a reasonable price and get out before the brunch crowd comes in.
55 Third Avenue, New York; (212) 420-9800; http://www.thesmithnyc.com/