Friday, April 27, 2007

Chophouse Review: Smith & Wollensky

After an eight week grind of 20-hour days, no booze, bad beats, and thousands of Howrudoins, the Heads-Up Poker team went out for chops to celebrate the end of the post-edit. Luckily, thankfully, I was not involved in the post-production. Did it last year, and I knew something was wrong when I started drinking coffee staight from the pot and blood began seeping from my eyeballs. But since I was in Vegas for the shooting of the show, I got an invite.
The dinner was at Smith & Wollensky in midtown Manhattan. Not only was it the first time in eight weeks that I'd be able to see some of my friends who sold their lives to the show, but it just so happened that Smith & Wo's was next up on my chophouse list. Steaks on the peacock? Sold.
So Wednesday night, a group of us walked the six blocks up 3rd avenue to chomp. Using the Bruce System of Chophouse Rankings, here's what went down...

Location: Tough to beat 49th and 3rd in Manhattan. Just a tad off the path from a subway is the only down here. SCORE: 9 (out of 10)

Ambiance: The inside of the joint screams chophouse. The classic decor, the red-faced waiters, the boisterous buzz, the sounds of sawing. Like John Amechi, it's packed in pretty tight on both floors, but it's gotta be that way to service the many clientele. SCORE: 9

Bar: Average bar here, and the lack of a plasma on the second floor hurts the cause. That Sabres 3, Rangers 0 score would've looked nice in HD, I'm not gonna lie. SCORE: 6

Bread, Appetizer, Salad: Quite a variety in the bread basket, so there's no way someone like BCSmut33 could refer to it as stupid. Granted, nothing in there came close to the popover bread at BLT Steak, but what could? After surveying some of the bread, I tried out the breadsticks, which basically look like flattened everything bagels. They tasted good, but I got a little nervous when my pal The Glaze, a staunch liberal, started busting my balls for eating hippie food. Several seafood platters were brought out right away, which, while extremely classy, was torture for someone with a vicious shellfish allergy. As is my habit, went with the Caesar Salad, which certainly fell above the 50th percentile of Caesars I've had. Croutons left a bit to be desired, but a good amount of cheese and dressing made up for it. SCORE: 8

Sides: The creamed spinach looked a little too much like pesto sauce and tasted a little too much regular spinach to come anywhere close to the Cap Grille Popeye Standard. Dabbled in the asparagus, but the lack of seasoning/sauce wouldn't have made Jeff a happy chomper (see below). Can't complain about the hash browns though. So good job right there. Didn't bother with the broccoli, and was kicking myself for not asking for a side of wild mushrooms. SCORE: 6
Conine wouldn't have been happy with the asparagus.

Chop: Disappointing. Went with the regular sirloin, which was a bad job on my part because I probably should've gone with the bone-in NY strip (poor recommendation by the waiter - more on him in a second). Cooked to a perfect medium, but slightly under-charred, which is a baaaad job. Of the 14 oz, I'd say only 10 was meat; the rest fat and gristle. And the taste just wasn't there. Lack of spices, lack of flavor. To top it all off, the plates were unusually small - very difficult to cram the sides on the same dish. SCORE: 5

Dessert: The the cheesecake had too much lemon flavor. I'm looking for a cheesecake, not a meringue pie. Small break, please. I'm told that the peanut butter chocolate cake was good. SCORE: 6

Crowd: Boisterous class all around. Obviously sitting with good peeps from work - Margee, The Glaze, White, Dru The Divine, Boss Moose, Missus Moose, Chocolate Boy, Don Gotti, Mush, DByrd, MikeD, Ro, and Eddie C - and despite the abundance of females, it made for an enjoyable chomping experience. The Boss Moose impersonations were flying around as usual, everyone was busting balls, and you can't imagine how damaged souls are lifted when there's a free meal in the air.
But there always needs to be a celebrity sighting to get the perfect score here. And Smith & Wolly's had it Wednesday night (and probably every night). Sitting in the adjacent room was a party from the Mets organ-I-zation (in honor of hockey players, I'm pronouncing it that way from now on), including Tom Seaver and Keith Hernandez. I was born in '81, so forgive me if I can't get all pumped up about Seaver. I only know him as a washed up Red Sox and as one of the worst baseball announcers this side of Joe Morgan. Seaver has always been a classic FIGJAM: Fuck, I'm Great, Just Ask Me. When you win 300 games in the majors I guess you're entitled to that, but whatever, the guy drives me nuts. Still cool to see a Hall-of-Famer though. Keith, on the other hand, was a tremendous sighting. He was sitting next to a broad that looked eerily like Elaine Benes. And it took all of my inner fortitude to refrain from shouting out "Reeeee-jec-ted!" when he tried to play airplane with her food and she failed to oblige. I kept waiting for him to look over at our table, see Margee and The Glaze and yell out, "What's that?! No women at the steak table!" SCORE: 10

Service: My boy forgot my Caesar, failed to acknowledge three requests for another round of Amstels, and continuously knocked into The Glaze as he was serving the food. And she's got a pretty small dome, so it was easily avoidable. Just a salty demeanor all around. Baaaad job. SCORE: 5

General Class Factor: You feel like you're in a classic chophouse at Smith & Wo's. They handle mind-blowing numbers of chompers every night, and manage to be classy throughout (except for the occasional surly waiter). SCORE: 8

Final Score: 72. Kind of a skewed score here. No doubt a classy place, and arguably the most well-known chophouse in the city. And I know that they treat my boy the Mayor awfully well. But overall, a satisfactory meal. Ranks just below the 75 turned in by Cap Grille Las Veags, but the food itself wasn't that close. Kind of like a team down by five who hits a 3 at the buzzer to make the score respectable.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Best of The Blade

"Guys, it's one thing to suck. It's another to suck and not be able to bunt."

"Not only are we not good, we're stupid. Not good and stupid. That's just a bad combination."

"The first kid, he's got good stuff but he's a gagger, alright? Things don't go his way he's gonna shit down his leg."

"This guy is a decent hitter, but he can't run or throw. Either one. Can't run...or...throw."

"Todd, I don't know what you did, and I know people make mistakes. But I have no earthly idea how a human being could do something like this. You're gonna have to owe anywhere from 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 hundred dollars, plus the cost of Coach McGrath's hats and gloves."

"You've got a girl Bob? That's funny, I had you pegged as a rumproaster."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Matt, step out of the box. Did he just call that a strike? Wow. That's alright, he's a good ump. He'll give that one back."

"Guy's got no move now. No move."

"Jesus, he looks just like Garbatini. Who's your father, the milkman?"

"Very picturesque day. I'd write a poem if I could. Just don't have the time. Alright let's go get 'em."

"At some point, it ceases to be amusing."

"You need to have a plan at the plate. If you don't have a plan, you won't be able to get a hit unless you have extraordinary ability. Which none of you have. If you did, you wouldn't be here."

"If you cant hit the proper way by the time you are 18,19,20 years old, you need to find another vocation. I dont care what it is, but it cant be playing baseball. Some of you have aweful habits and it is too late to change them. If you were any good you wouldnt be here."

"Gone." - Blurted this out when our pitcher Hamm-Bone threw a chest high fastball to the nine hitter on M.I.T. He said this as the ball was halfway to the plate, and the kid hit it out.

"Amherst and Wesleyan are our big rivals in the Little Three. Amherst tends to have more prep school kids than we do. That's probably why we always beat them."

"Step left Austin. Step left Austin. STEP LEFT AUSTIN!"

"Matt, I like the way you pitch. You throw strikes. I know that if I put you out there during the week you're not gonna gag. But to be honest, if you try and bring that 75-mph express to NESCAC hitters, they're gonna hit it out every time."

"Jesus." - Junior year, when I stepped on the scale and it read 195. For the record, I weighed in at 165 my freshman year.

"Hey Matt, you pushing two spins again this year?" - Right before stepping on the scales senior year.

"Now Sean, I know you've got the better receiver on that side, but he's going against a four-year starter. Hell, I would've thrown at the kid with the beard."

"And there'll be no bench jockeying. Every year there's one freshman who starts running his mouth - usually a hockey player, they're dirtbags. They like to poke each other with their sticks. Vandalzie the hotel, breakin' shit. Anyway, there'll be none of that."

"Hey Mark, I know it's a ball, but just hit that out of the park, right? If he hangs one like that, just hit it out."

"He's got speed. I'm assuming."

"Hope you didn't take my advice on the Tigers. If you are going to bet you have to know more than I know. That's why I don't bet games. For instance, I didn't know that the guy who throws 100 and the guy with the tattoo on his forearm with the outstanding stuff are both like the Amherst pitcher."

"Two-man crew move! Two-man crew move!"

"We don't have many rules guys. Only two things. One is be on time. I don't care what you do the night before, drink yourself into a package, whatever. Just make sure you're on time, on the field, with your uniform clean, ready to play the next day. And the second rule is give 100%. Or treat other people with respect, either one. I'd say treat others the way you like to be treated, but some people like to be treated strangely."

"There is no WAY a woman of Italian decent from Maine could POSSIBLY have a perfect score on the SAT. No way."

"Watch it!"

"Watch that!"

"Brent, I hear you were rolling kegs down Spring St. Brent, we have no team policy against rollings kegs down Spring St., so you're fine."

"10 points, hit a WUFO. WUFO."

"Some broad on the softball team bitched to the administration about Indian runs. We will now commence the Native American trot. 1 mile Native American trot. Native American trot."


"Coach McGrath, the guy in the red shirt can't bunt."

"We gotta do this in a CLANDESTINE fashion. Clandestine fashion. Can't raise any money around here, just gotta sell all 20 T-shirts to your parents or whatever. Clandestine fashion..."

"Guys, You need to be mentally tough. Like Martina Navratolova once said, You got to strap it on one more time."

"All this guy's got is a spinner and a ball. A spinner and a ball."

"You don't have one kid on your team who could get into Williams with a cro-bar." - Said to the Skidmore coach before walking away chuckling.

"Pitchers get your running in. Infielders take your positions. Outfielders will be in cage, servicing themselves."

"Get a ball and throw it. Get a ball and throw it."

"You Texas guys and standards. Don't understand. Go ugly early."

"So you guys still do the magic mushrooms? Mushrooms. We used to have a bucket full of them in the DKE house. Attic. Eat yourself into a nice package. Hey NOW! Right Deuce Ringo Colorado."

"You're a bunch of morons. And you go to a moron school." - To the Trinity bench.

"Matt Marvin has no business drivin’ a van. No business."

"Under no circumstances will anyone, ANYONE drink...and drive."

"The baseball program is starting to come around. Travesty before I came. We got a guy - Jewish kid from Texas. Isaac Pesin. 1600 SATs with no talent. None. Throws a knuckle ball. Fastball about 68 and half. Gives up 20 hits a game but picks 'em all off. Call him the I-MAN. I-MAN. I-MAN. I-MAN..."

"79 and a half. 79 and a half. Lookin' for the local. Got the express."

"MVP of the trip is me...for scheduling. Scheduling."

"This guy is from an SEC school. So he's obviously a moron."

"Wet ball, small hands. Wet ball, small hands. Small hands, small dick. Don't worry Marshall, it's not the size of the meat, it's the motion."

"Cuban hockey players. Shortest book ever written."

"The Olympics should be a good time. Stay away from broads with head covering and veils, white Toyota pick-up trucks and guys with turbans and you should be fine."