Smith and Wollensky + Giveaway!

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It’s not everyday you get to dine inside of a castle.

It’s even more rare to be able to dine inside of an armory, especially when that armory still maintains and preserves much of the history of the original armory.

And how often do you get to climb to the top of the armory and look down towards Boston?

And then finish off with some fantastic dry-aged prime steaks, fresh lobster, and truffled mac & cheese?

Guess what? This has got to be one of the best kept secrets for tourists in Boston. Come to Smith & Wollensky, enjoy a fascinating tour of the armory, and then sit down to a great meal in the beautiful dining room.

Let me take you on a sneak peek of this experience!

SmithWollenskyUniforms
We met with Wayne, the general manager of Boston’s Smith & Wollensky, who had kindly invited us to try out their new summer grill menu. Little did I expect such a neat tour of this fascinating building.

Some background first. This castle was home to the First Corps of Cadets, Massachusetts’ volunteer militia. From 1891 to about the 1960’s, the Cadets lived, studied, drilled, and worked in this building. After they left in the 1960’s, the building sort of sat around, falling into disrepair. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s when Smith & Wollensky spent $12 million restoring and updating this building to its current state today.

Upstairs is a museum of sorts where they have a collection of various types of military uniforms throughout history. Wayne knows some pretty interesting facts about each uniform, and he tells great stories about each one.
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There are also some beautiful beautiful dining rooms on the upper floors. These can be rented out for private events, or are sometimes open to guests depending on the season.
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Much of the architecture has been restored back to its original form. Up here, you really feel like you have traveled back in time.
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The further up you go, the more interesting it becomes! Here we are at the top. As you can see, they are still working on this space and trying to figure out what to do with it. Any ideas?
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Can you guess what this table was used for? Cadets would lay out maps on the large table and strategize while higher level officials could looked down from the upper floor and keep an eye on what was going on.
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And then all of a sudden we are on the 6th floor turret. A turret is a small tower that projects vertically from the wall of a building.
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Here we are peeking through a “crenellation,” a type of architecture where cutouts exist in the wall enabling fighters to discharge arrows or other weapons out towards the enemy.

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At the top, signal flags could be used to communicate with the State House across Boston Common, whose flat open space afforded clear views across the top of the trees.

What a beautiful view of Boston!

After soaking in the view for a few minutes, we slowly stepped our way down to the kitchen.

First Stop: Steak Aging Room!

SmithWollenskyAgingSteaks
All steaks are butchered and dry-aged for 28 days on site. I was really impressed with the dedicated dry-aging cold room. It was immaculate, set at the perfect temperature, and seemed really well organized.
Wine cellar Smith & Wollensky
We briefly stopped by the huge wine cellar.

And then it was finally time for dinner.
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And now it’s finally time to look at the food! Here’s a look at some of the offerings off of the Summer Grill Menu. Of course, the menu has a lot of their classics, such as their popular ribeye or filet mignon. However, it also has a lot of lighter summer fare, such as various flatbreads, sandwiches, and salads. There is a significant focus on lobster, such as surf & turf and lobster mac& cheese.
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Spicy Lobster and Avocado Flatbread – $12
We both really enjoyed this dish. The flatbread was light and crispy, and the toppings were fresh and flavorful. I especially enjoyed the contrasting flavors and textures of the crispy flat bread, the creamy avocados, the juicy tomatoes, and the fragrant cilantro. Of course, Bryan loves avocados and cilantro. He basically remarked that “you can’t go wrong” with this combination of toppings.
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Lobster Salad – $20
arugula, butternut lettuce, hearts of palm, mango,red pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, scallions, mango-chili vinaigrette
Similarly, we both really liked the salad as well. I love palm hearts and corn in any salad, so I was quite pleased. This salad is chock full of lobster meat, so it’s a bit pricier but worth the money.
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Miso-glazed Chilean Sea Bass – $34
Asian slaw, lemon teriyaki
I told the waiter I wanted something lighter for my entrée, and he recommended this fish dish as his favorite. I thought the dish was well executed, with a nice crispy exterior and soft, melt-in-your-mouth interior. The miso-glaze, although not the most creative of flavors, is a solid stand-by that is reliably tasty.
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20 oz bone-in Ribeye Steak – $33
Of course, this is a steak house, so we had to try their steak. Bryan always orders ribeye because he thinks it has the most flavor of any cut. The waiter took the time to caution us that the restaurant tends to cook meat on the rarer side (like in Europe), so we should take that into account when ordering.

Bryan’s response?

“Great! I’ll have it rare please.”

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They did a fantastic job.
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Check out that perfect “crust” that forms a thin layer around the pink and still slightly cold inside. Bryan loved it.
SmithWollenskySides
Creamed Spinach, Rosemary Foccacia (complimentary), Sauteed Mushrooms, Hash Brown Potatoes
all sides are $10 except for the baked potato ($6) and are meant to be shared

We also ordered a bunch of sides to share. Their bread (upper right) is amazing and one of the best “sides” on the menu. Best yet, it’s free! The rest of the sides were OK, although none blew me away. In my book, winner for “best mushrooms at a steakhouse” is still Craftsteak in Las Vegas. My favorite hash browns hands down go to The Oceanaire (just make sure you order it “a la Oceanaire” style).
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Lobster Truffled Mac & Cheese ($16)
The lobster mac & cheese (summer special item) was pretty good. It’s basically the truffle mac & cheese off of the regular menu but with lobster added.
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Wollensky Butcher Burger – $13
One of our favorite items was actually the burger! At $13 we thought it was an incredible deal. Bryan even said that he liked it better than Tony Maws’ famous bone-marrow infused grass-fed burger at Craigie on Main, which, by the way, costs almost 50% more than this one. This burger was incredibly juicy and just had a beautiful inherent beef flavor. Keep in mind these are burgers made with 28-day dry aged prime beef. It’s not surprising that they are so good.
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And for $13, it’s a total steal. They did a great job of cooking it medium-rare just like we ordered. The fries were forgettable (I think we said we liked the ones at Five Guys a lot better), but we were so distracted by the juicy burger that we hardly noticed.
Coconut Cream Cake
Coconut Cream Cake
By this time we were pretty stuffed, but for the sake of our readers we thought we should try a few desserts. I’m not a huge fan of coconut, but I still thought this cake was nice in that it was light, not too sweet, and overall had a good, fluffy texture. It sort of reminded me of Asian cakes.
Strawberry Short Cake
Strawberry Short Cake
I love strawberry shortcake, especially one that’s made with a biscuit like this one. I thought this dessert was very enjoyable, and if I were to come back, I would choose this one over the coconut cake. In general, their desserts are traditional and solid.

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Any more thoughts?
Our general impression about this place was that these guys really know how to prepare and cook meat. We know that some people may not be used to the fact that they tend to undercook their meat compared to other steakhouses. However, after being used to having meat overcooked all the time, this was a welcomed relief. Plus, the steaks have really good flavor because they are prime and have been dry-aged for almost a month.

The summer grill menu items, such as the lobster avocado flatbread and the lobster salad, were surprisingly good. I especially loved the bright citrus-y flavors of the salad, which had corn, palm hearts, and lobster tossed together in a mango vinaigrette. The sides underwhelmed me, but then they are not the star of the meal anyway.

We both loved the burger and still think it’s the best burger deal in town.

If you are interested in the tour, just make a note of it in your dinner reservation, which you can do through their website.

Giveaway!
Wayne was kind enough to offer me two $50 gift certificates to give away on this blog. Here are ways to enter. Please leave a comment for each entry.

1) What is your favorite steak or burger place, and why?
2) Tweet about this Givewaway. Please make sure to include a link to this post and also mention @tinyurbankitchn
3) Blog about this Givewaway and link to this post. Please provide a link to your post in the comments here.

I will draw TWO winners next week on Wednesday night at midnight.

Good luck!
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Smith and Wollensky
101 Arlington St
Boston, MA 02116
Smith & Wollensky on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: Time to time I receive products, meals, etc. for free as a food blogger. I do not receive any payment for these posts/reviews. The views expressed in the posts are completely my own. This meal (minus the alcohol) was paid for by Smith & Wollensky.

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All Rights Reserved

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Comments

  1. Heather Groat says

    My favorite steak place in Boston is Ruth’s Chris, though I have not tried Smith & Wollensky yet and have always wanted to!

  2. says

    My favorite burger place is Ray’s Hellburger in Arlington, VA. They grind their meat on the spot and the burgers are yummy and huge! I also like how they give you a side of corn or watermelon depending on the season instead of fries.

  3. says

    wow, what an incredible experience! i don’t have a fav burger place here yet… but now i want this one :) in philly i loved good dog and monks!

  4. says

    My favorite burger place is b.good (several locations around, but mine is in Dedham). They grind their own beef and their fries are baked (but delicious) and they have really excellent shakes that you can get with either ice cream or frozen yogurt. They use local ingredients as much as they can, which is a plus for me.

  5. Cavitybuster says

    my favorite steak place is wolfgangs on lexington ave in nyc. the porterhouse for 2 is delicious! very similar to peter lugar’s in brooklyn, but this restaurant is right in manhattan and easy to get to.

  6. says

    I’ve always wondered about the background of that gorgeous structure – thanks for the tour overview! The food looks amazing as well – it seems like a great place for a special night out. I’m neither a huge steak nor burger eater, but I do appreciate a well executed filet mignon – one of which I enjoyed thoroughly at The Capital Grille. I’m also a fan of b. good for a healthy selection of burgers!

  7. Leah says

    My favorite steak place is Gibson’s, in Chicago – everything about it makes you feel like you’ve slipped into a more glamorous life for the evening, and the steaks are amazing.

  8. Cassiana says

    My favorite steak place in Boston is Flemming’s. We have never had a bad meal there and have always had a very enjoyable experience overall. They have delicious steaks, wonderful drinks, and really good sides. The Flemming’s Potatoes are amazing.

    With that said, we have never been to Smith and Wollensky. I loved the review with pictures. It looks like you had a lovely evening. We will have to try it out sometime. Did you have to book the tour or do they offer that to everyone?

  9. Q.H. says

    My favorite steak place is Flemmings.

    I love the way they cook their ribeye, the cocktails are fantastic, and the service is always exemplar.

  10. Funandfearlessinbeantown says

    What a great giveaway! I took Bret to S&W for his birthday a few years ago and agree that their mushrooms were fantastic (although coincidentally like you, I think Craftsteak’s mushrooms are the best ever!). My favorite steak place is probably the Oak Room!

  11. Betsy says

    Oh wow, both the steak and the burger look fantastic! Gorgeous pics, as always. I never knew you could get a tour of the building! Fun.

    My favorite place for a burger is Garden at the Cellar. Their grass fed beef burger with arugula and aioli is perfect! I also like the burger at Craigie on Main (but only had a few bites).

  12. helen says

    I’ve never tried this place but would love to try. I guess my favorite place would be Grill 23 but I haven’t gone to many steak places. I do love a rare Ribeye.

  13. Bea says

    my favourite burger is the Mustang at Wild Willy’s in Watertown — it’s a great deal, with grass-fed beef and horseradish mayo, and they’ll cook their burgers to order. best of all, it’s really close by :-).

  14. says

    Our co-workers at Smith and Wollensky look forward to having YOU join us here at Boston’s Castle–located on the edge of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood where Arlington meets Columbus Street (an easy walk from the T stops–the Green Line at Arlington Station and the Orange Line at the Back Bay Station).

    Our Summer Menu is perfect for the warmer, more-casual days of summer–and our historic Medieval building with its one-of-a-kind dining rooms provide a truly unique dining experience.

    For quick, easily-confirmed dinner reservations, just click on our website at http://www.SmithandWollensky.com –and make a note that you’d like a tour. We look forward to serving you soon.

  15. Peter S. says

    Favorite steak place in Boston is Morton’s.

    The wine pictured is a Robert Mondavi Cabernet Reserve 1996 (Originally WS 95, now WS 91). This is a fantastic wine when Jen, Bryan and I tried it 4 years ago. However, it’s on the downward slope since it’s fairly mature. I would recommend the 1999 Reserve or the 2004. The 2006 is fantastic as well but a bit young.

  16. says

    Heinnie’s Black Barn in Elkhart, IN for my favorite burger! Prime steak trimmings ground fresh cooked medium rare; it’s oh so good.

    Your disclaimer at the bottom makes me want to be a food blogger X.X

  17. Julia Cantor says

    I’ve always wanted to try Smith & Wollensky! My favorite steak was from Shula’s on the Beach in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. My friends and I went on vacation there five or six years ago and splurged on the surf & turf! We were in heaven. Always fun to remember.

  18. Cleesmile says

    looks delish and like a super fun experience!
    my last favorite burger i have to say was from Blue 9 in nyc… its just like an in n’out but has this super yummmmy mango chili dip!

  19. Rachel says

    The best burger is at the bar at Craigie on Main. But for an everyday burger, I like b.good or Four Burgers!

  20. Jason says

    Wow, what a great reivew, to the point and realistic. Only been there once, but we’re going next month for a family birthday.
    I would love to sneak away from the old folks in my family and go up on the roof if possible. Living on the West coast, I rarely get into that old of a building, let alone a castle.

  21. says

    I love your behind the scenes photos- very cool! I was at S&W and (this may not carry much water, being a vegetarian and all) I absolutely love it there. The menu is varied enough that I had trouble deciding what to order– a good problem to have!

  22. says

    Love S&W’s but I’m also a huge fan of Peter Luger’s in Bklyn and Rowdy Hall in LI. Hope I win! I’m also tweeting about this giveaway!

    If you happen to be a fragrance fan, I’m actually hosting a Thierry Mugler giveaway over on my site: http://ontheglam.com

  23. Laviza says

    I like Barclay Prime in Philadelphia. top quality meat, excellent presentation,and beautiful selection of knives to choose from to enjoy your steak

  24. Jay says

    Hi QH… If you like Fleming’s, you should visit Boston’s Castle! They’ve got a fantastic bar–with classic cocktails fitting the classic atmosphere, and the menu is great, too!

  25. elaine says

    my favorite burger place has to be Umami Burger in LA. It’s the perfect combination of a juicy patty, soft bun with a slight crisp on the bottom, and fresh crunch veggies. The texture and taste combo is unbeatable. Sometimes when I am feeling really crazy I get the Man Burger, which has onion rings nestled inside the burger.

  26. pang says

    Woww weee!! I want to try Smith and Wollensky !!!

    Recounting my memories, I realize I go to more seafood houses than steakhouses.
    I have only been to Abe and Louie’s in Boston and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in NYC (4 Park Ave location).

    The steak at Wolfgang’s is out of the world! The meat is so tender and juicy and literally melts in your mouth. We had the Poterhouse Steak for 2 !! Fantastic flavours!

    I dont have tweet but can i just stick it in facebook???

  27. says

    Tweeted here:
    http://twitter.com/bostonwolf

    My favorite steakhouse is probably the Capital Grille. S&W was great but I thought my steak was just a bit better at the Grille. Either would do in a pinch though.

    Bryan and I are kindred spirits in regards to high quality steak. I want it to spend as little time on the grill as possible and still be bloody and a bit cool in the middle. Just like a good tuna steak.

    Best burger is In-N-Out Animal Style. Serious Eats just posted something about how to re-create it at home and I have all the tools I need to do it. That could be a weekend project.

  28. pang says

    Woww weee!! I want to try Smith and Wollensky !!!

    Recounting my memories, I realize I go to more seafood houses than steakhouses.
    I have only been to Abe and Louie’s in Boston and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in NYC (4 Park Ave location).

    The steak at Wolfgang’s is out of the world! The meat is so tender and juicy and literally melts in your mouth. We had the Poterhouse Steak for 2 !! Fantastic flavours!

    I dont have tweet but can i just stick it in facebook???

  29. AMK says

    Nice Post. I’m not big for chain restaurants, but this might just persuade me to check S&W-Boston out.

  30. Kristina says

    I’m not shy to admit it. Our favorite steak dinner was at Smith and Wollensky’s in Chicago. It was a winter night. It was romantic.

  31. says

    What a fun outing! My favorite steak place is Del Frisco’s in NYC – for food and sentimental reasons (it’s a special occasion celebratory place for us!) I also like Peter Luger – nicely rare steak and the grumpy old-school waiters shot down my friend’s request for a well-done steak (sorry, I’m of the “steak should never be well-done” camp)

  32. says

    This post is fantastic. I was unaware all these facts about the castle. thanks for sharing. and the food looks incredible. My favorite place for a Burger is Radius. Michael Scholow’s creation is just unreal. I had an amazing steak dinner at Mooo… I love how they serve the bone marrow butter. and at BOTH places the french fries are out of this world. I am a huge fry girl.

  33. Hil says

    My favorite burgur place is b.good because I can enjoy a nice freshly ground burger with a lesser degree of caloric guilt. I also like Wild Willy’s in Watertown, with jalepeno and blue cheese dressing.

  34. says

    You are one lucky, lucky blogger! The team at one of my favorite SF restaurants, Spruce, recently opened a new French bistro on Union Street that’s supposed to be excellent… especially for burgers! I can’t wait to try.

    As for now, I love a place in Palo Alto called the Counter.

  35. christinefreshlocalandbest says

    This post has me sooooo excited! This is indeed one of Boston’s best kept secret, and thanks to you, I can plan on visiting this amazing place too!

    My favorite steak place is Spark’s in midtown Manhattan.

  36. burp_excuzme says

    Can I say In-N-Out? hahhaa! I’m cheap, and honestly I have not really been to a gourmet steak and burger place before. That Spicy Lobster and Avocado Flatbread looks freaking GOOD, though, and I am swooning at the lovely pinkness of the meat!

  37. Peggstone says

    My favorite steak restaurant in Boston is Capital Grille. I’ve had several good experiences there. I think there are so many good places here though. I think the quality of meats are pretty comparable too at the higher end places and I don’t think I could distinguish otherwise. For me, a good steak place cooks the meat correctly and/or cooks it at the temperature the customer requests. I’ve been to some restaurants where it’s off and I think that’s a travesty.

    I actually do love Smith & Wollensky – went there regularly when I lived in NYC. You’ve inspired me to try this one in Boston though!! The non-steak options look great. I am a big steak eater though -so would have to try the rib-eye.

  38. Laura says

    My favorite burger thus far is the American Kobe Burger at StripSteak @ the Mandalay in Las Vegas. The simple decadence of the burger, without the need for many “decorations”, was AMAZING. And the fact that it was accompanied w/ duck fat fries did not hurt one bit!

  39. Paula Pereira says

    My favorite burger so far has been at Garden at the Cellar, the truffle fries are so delicious! Hoping to try this dry aged burger though!

  40. F.C. says

    Well, it’s probably not quite the best steak I’ve ever had, but the Scarlet Oak Tavern in Hingham has a great atmosphere, and is one of the better places I’ve found on the South Shore!

  41. Richard says

    My favorite burger spots are Street and Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar in San Francisco. The sheer number of customizable options is staggering, and the leaner bison burger is always cooked to perfection.

  42. says

    my favourite burger is from Toro, the burger itself is incredible but I think what really makes it is the aioli. I haven’t tried Smith and Wollensky yet though!

  43. says

    My favorite steak restaurant is Sam & Harry’s in Washington DC. They’ll cook steak as rare as I want it, and their steaks are SO delicious. They have great side-dishes as well – shoestring potatoes and creamed spinach, to name two. The waiters always recommend great wine, and I always leave happy and full.

  44. Siobhan says

    My favorite burger is Garden at the Cellar which is just around the corner from my house, delicious and well priced. The best steak I’ve ever had was at Moo, the steaks were all amazing but so overpriced. But now I’ll have to try Boston Castle :)

  45. lazysundae says

    I live in NYC – the Black Label at Minetta Tavern lives up to the hype! Super juicy and flavorful.

  46. Luosha says

    The Cellar has the best burgers! from happy cows even (or so they claim – from wolfe’s neck in maine). they’re juicy, slightly crisp on outside, and come on a weirdly delicious bun that tastes like butter. and of course butter makes everything better.

  47. Meghan says

    The best burger I’ve ever had was at 28degrees in Los Angeles – and here’s why – they let you build the burger with the best ingredients you can think of *and* cook it perfectly. I take the sirloin rare with well done bacon, epoisse, and pickled jalepeños. Superb every time, and on a nice grilled buttery bun. Runner-up is the ‘Pug’ burger at the Hungry Cat (same locale) which is topped with incredible blue cheese, crispy bacon, and arugula (again, on a wonderfully toasty buttery bun).

  48. Yero says

    I like B.Good burgers in Harvard Square. The shop is large and clean. The burgers are simple and delicious. The food is a little on the greasy side, so it’s not an every day meal. But it’s a great treat with that old school fast food feel.

  49. Elina Holbrook says

    Wow, I was so surprised to read such a (generally) positive review since this is a chain restaurant. I would never put this on my go-to list but maybe I should reconsider. The lobster flatbread + salad looks best to me but I’m not THAT much into steak (my husband is though). Favorite steak in Boston is Moo because they use grass fed beef (their lobster bisque and rolls are to die-for as well!!).

  50. Ryan says

    Looks lovely!! I’m relatively new to Boston and haven’t had a good opportunity yet to drag my veggie-eating boyfriend to a steakhouse. For sentimental reasons, I’ll have to give some love to the burgers at the Vermont Pub and Brew. They will actually cook them rare, are from local meat, and come with lots of toppings. Yum!

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