For serious eaters, there's the meal you go for to have an experience - to be pampered and introduced to interesting ingredients and flavor combinations, and then, there's the meal you go for in search of comfort - food that hits the spot. Smith's Spring Chicken Menu solidly fills diners with food that would make grandma proud. It does more than just satisfy hunger, it enhances the pleasure of dining with the sense that there is value here. If Smith's has figured out how to make diners feel as though they are truly getting a deal while still actually making money off this set menu, they've discovered a potent secret weapon.
On Monday and Tuesday nights, for $35 - total, two people are served a three-course dinner: salad, roast chicken with two sides and dessert. The building blocks are simple, but, as such, they could easily disappoint. Not the case here. This familiar, yet delicious repast makes you want to shovel more and more into your mouth until there is no food left or you are more than satisfyingly full. The latter is more likely.
The large salad is a bowl of mixed greens, arugula and frisee with slices of tomato, cucumber and olives, and green beans. It is salty enough to stir the palate, but not oversalted, and the green beans are a nice not-often-seen twist.
The chicken arrives splayed out on a sizzling hot plate. The smell of rosemary and butter waft up as the crispy browned skin calls out to our carnivorous sides. This arrives with a mini cast iron pot filled with a side of roasted mixed vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus and fingerling potatoes) tossed with garlic and balsamic vinegar. Additionally, there is a casserole of polenta, the consistency of mashed potatoes, but sealed with a beautiful, crusty top.
We are in awe of the more than adequate portion sizes and at how well seasoned all the food is. We are raving with admiration and delight as we eat every last bite. The food is so terrific we lament that there isn't more, despite the fact that we probably wouldn't have room for more.
When diners are not choosing dessert, chocolate seems like the smartest choice. A giant bowl of chocolate mousse with a generous dollop of whipped cream in the center and a sprinkling of peanut brittle across the top could easily have fed four people - this encouragement of gluttony happily caps off the evening. Not too sweet, but sweet enough that we were scraping the bowl's bottom for the last licks.
As my dining companion said: "That was such a good meal. Are we coming back every Monday?"
Smith's - We'll be back.
79 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012