I don't often spend my Monday nights out and about, but when picking a place to meet a friend last night, I figured a chilly Monday was the perfect opportunity to check out a relatively new, relatively hot restaurant without having to wait hours for a table. Turns out, if the restaurant is new enough and hot enough, there will still be a 1.5 hour-plus wait on a Monday night. Still, I was glad to have picked Smith's (the newest venture by Danny Abrams, of Red Cat, Mermaid Inn and Harrison), because it luckily has a clubby little bar in the back with a fun menu and a friendly bartender, and my friend and I managed to sample four or five dishes as well as a few glasses of wine, with absolutely no wait.
Smith's menu offers an exotic twist on greenmarket bistro fare: we had truffle deviled eggs, grilled tellagio and apple sandwiches, crispy brussel sprouts with almonds and an apple cake with ginger ice cream. All of the dishes were almost dainty in presentation, but big on flavor, and the wines by the glass offered a generous selection with some options under $10/glass. We each started with the sparkling Brut Rose di Rabosa, from the Veneto region of Italy, which was crisp and dry and acidic and delicious, especially with the cheese and apple dish. My second glass was a lovely Zinfandel blend whose name escapes me but that I loved for being less jammy than a lot of Zinfandels I find on wine lists.
The bar itself was a delight: it's dim and mirrored and there is velvet and a big Oriental rug and the entire vibe was very much goth-meets-club car. The dining room is more understated but the bar felt like a secret compartment, hidden in the back of the restaurant, which made it all the more enjoyable.
I had neither the patience for the long wait nor the foresight to make a reservation, so I can't speak to the service or the full menu, but I can say that Smith's had a bewitching feel to it, and that I plan to return. The location is somewhat surprising; it's on Macdougal, smack in the middle of NYU-land, amidst comedy clubs, coffee shops and bars, but Danny Abrams has created an elegant, stylish spot that is clearly attracting crowds.
Our bill, which included four drinks, three small plates (or was it four? I feel like we tried something else that I'm forgetting...) and a dessert, came to $72 before tip. Smith's ( 212-260-0100) is located at 79 Macdougal St., nr. Bleecker St. and accepts all major credit cards.