Sitting pretty on one of London's most iconic streets, Smollensky's The Strand was a treat that been long anticipated: how would it fare in comparison to the plethora of other restaurants and eateries in the area? It was time to find out.
Smollensky’s is one of those places which everyone’s heard about, but not necessarily ever been to. Its discreet and understated entrance gives no clue to the fun to be had in the large and welcoming interior. A long-time London favourite, Smollensky's is perfectly situated near to the bustle of Covent Garden, but not so near that it gets overrun by the hordes. The look is classy and sophisticated, with exposed brickwork, decadent chandeliers and potted palms; the colour scheme being neutral wood and beige tones with splashes of purple. As you come down the stairs from the discreet street entrance, you are greeted by a long underlit bar that wouldn’t look out of place is some glamorous New York hotel. A grand piano adds to the cosmopolitan vibe.
The Atmosphere & Clientele:
When we arrived on a Saturday night, there was very much a celebratory, party feel to Smollensky’s; the buzz is palpable and it fast becomes clear that people are here to enjoy themselves. It’s the sort of place you come as the first port of call on a big night out, where you would enjoy some good food and cocktails before hitting the dance floor. There were several birthdays being celebrated while we were there, as well as groups of friends taking advantage of the great nightly happy hour deal. The loud crowd-pleasing music and the friendly, engaged staff added to the conviviality.
The Food & Drinks:
Smollensky’s has a large cocktail list, themed around vintage Hollywood actresses like Betty Davis and Audrey Hepburn, with famous classics fighting for prominence with some original creations, like the raspberry Stoli, Chambord and cranberry ‘Strandilicious’. We tried the Mojitos, and while a tad on the sweet side, they had a good slug of rum and were clearly well made.
The food tends towards modern American, with an emphasis on steaks and burgers. For starters, we tried the pan-seared scallops, which had a really nice chargrilled flavour, and the prawn and papaya cocktail, which offered a wonderful kick of spice. For our main course, we just had to try the 12oz sirloin, nicely rare as requested and with an interesting ‘Black and Blue’ sauce of gorgonzola and cajun spices. A rack of ribs was as sticky and flavourful as we'd hoped, and our side of fries was really nicely cooked. All the portions, from the starters to the mains, and even the side salad, were very generous – thank goodness for doggy bags!
Smollensky’s The Strand is the place to come is you want a good value, fun night out with nice food and classy cocktails - certainly a hotspot for damn tasty chow in the West End of London.