I had occasion to dine at Smith & Wollensky last week. I was not expecting to have anything new to add to my recent review but they have now added a porterhouse for two which I feel is worth mentioning. As I stated in my full review S&W remains one of my favorite steakhouses in NYC, which makes it one of my favorite steakhouses anywhere.
I was frankly surprised to see the porterhouse for two offered here because for so many years S&W has refrained from succumbing to the increasingly prevalent trend of serving the cut. My guess is that the cut has become so entrenched in the steakhouse vernacular, by virtue of all of the Peter Luger's clones offering it, that S&W must have received so many requests for it that they felt obligated to add it to their permanent menu.
Thankfully S&W have not strayed from their steak formula by serving their porterhouse in the Peter Luger's model - despite how impressive the spectacle of the spluttering, sizzling platter of beef and butter parading through the dining room might be. I love the porterhouse at Luger's, it remains my favorite incarnation of the steak but I have to say that the S&W version gives it a run for its money. The steak is served "dry" with no additions, sans salt, and is sliced. While I prefer my steak served whole it makes sense to serve a large steak meant for sharing sliced. The steak is cut thicker than at Luger's but weighs around the same so its circumference is smaller. This allows it to develop a better crust than at Luger's, the latter complaint is really my only quibble with the steak at the venerable Brooklyn institution. Getting back to Manhattan the S&W porterhouse is ethereally tender with a pronounced, musky dry aged flavor, much closer in fact to their rib eye than their NY strip. The exterior char is impressive and provides a wonderful textural compliment to the succulent inner flesh. I often remark that the small sliver of marrow that resides in the bone cavity at the top of the "T" tells me all I need to know about the dry aging process. The one here imparted an over the top, moldy Roquefort cheese like tang with a heavy mineral finish. This is a beautifully aged piece of beef and a welcome, albeit unexpected addition, to the menu.
Smith & Wollensky
797 Third Ave.