Our college intern worked the summer in NYC at Goldman Sachs (she has a great future ahead of her) and told me that one restaurant that she went to many times was The Smith. The Smith NYC has a few locations (Lincoln Center, Midtown and the East Village). I would visit the Midtown location on 2nd near 51st, on a Thursday night. It was nine blocks (the number streets are a quick walk) from my hotel, The Westin Grand Central, and not far from the theatre for the show If/Then.
Prior to my visit, I looked up the menu options online and was instantly hungry and confused. There were so many great choices that it was going to be hard to choose. I normally suggest reservations via OpenTable but for just me, there were open slots at 6 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 6:30 pm so I decided to be a walk-in.
The restaurant is larger than I expected. From the street, I could see an ample L shaped bar area with seating and hi-top tables and dining rooms on the right side. As I entered, I noticed the black and white tiled floor and the hostess stand on my right (with three people staffing it). The bar was crowded and seemed popular for happy hour. I was instantly greeted and without issue taken to a table (no mention of the bar seating) passing a seat of booths on the left that were filled and saw a woman dining solo working on her laptop. The dining room is split into three distinct areas – a small area next to the bar, the larger area I was in with an L shaped booth and then the back room which had just seated a party of 12.
The restaurant reminded me of my favorite Philly restaurant Parc – it was warm, open and full of life with a great energy.
The waiter was quick to introduce himself as Norman and offer me still or sparkling water. I ordered a glass of wine. While waiting for my wine, a small piece of warm bread with soft butter was delivered. That quickly, it was consumed (benefit to dining solo is no one judges the gluttony).
Norman was helpful to pare down the food options when I said I wanted to have dessert and therefore nothing too filling or large. The brick chicken was the winner. While I normally order fries, Norman insisted that the mashed were delicious so checking that I had my lactaid pills, I said ok.
The chicken was clearly a winner here. The skin was cooked to crunchy consistency although I don’t eat the skin. The meat was juicy and so tender. The mashed potatoes were buttery with garlic and the potato skins mixed in.
I did get to try the fries too (that’s another story) – they were skinny, salted and so good it was hard to stop yourself from eating them all. Served with an organic ketchup they hit all the right carb loving spots.
The servers worked well together and Norman, was really attentive. My water glass was never empty (despite many attempts to drain the glass).
It’s not often that I’m confused about dessert – it’s usually the panna cotta or the chocolate dessert – but at The Smith, the banana creme kept calling my name. Served in a mason jar it consists of layers of vanilla banana cream pudding with nilla wafers, whipped cream and bananas. Somehow, I rationalized it was the healthy dessert with all the bananas. In actuality, I was just hoping my stomach hadn’t told my brain that we were full so that I could eat the dessert. I managed about 1/3 before my brain caught up to my stomach and hit the “full” button.
Dining solo was easy at The Smith NYC Midtown, at no point did I feel awkward or alone. I had girlfriends on one side of me (her boyfriend is a real jerk from the stories – the tables are quite close), a couple two tables away with good appetites (they had the Prime Rib special which was massive) and a table of women sharing gifts ahead of me looking at my gluttony with longing as they consumed their salads (hey, if a salad or green juice doesn’t make you happy, The Smith is a good place to deviate and cheat on your food journal). The variety of food offered should make most folks happy and the food was quick enough to make this a good pre-theatre destination. On my next visit to NYC, I would definitely return to The Smith.