Bar review: The Adelphi bar at Smith & Wollensky, London 

Adelphi Bar Smith Wollensky
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Tim Firmager

Tim divides his time being a Digital Consultant in The City and as a food and travel writer across the globe. When he's not working as one of the Lifestyle Editors here at Vada, he's planning his next trip, or on the lookout for the latest food crazes or unusual foods in London's markets.
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Smith & Wollensky is known to be one of the best steak houses in New York. And for those that don’t know the name, re-watch The Devil Wears Prada, and you’ll see this is where Andrea fetches Miranda’s lunch. Steak aside, the London franchise launched its Adelphi Bar in September of this year in a bid to cater to more than just meat lovers, so of course Vada paid it a visit.

Adelphi Bar Smith Wollensky

The Adelphi Bar

With an art deco interior as formidable as the NYC venue, featuring dark oak wood, green leathers and a 1920s feel all set the scene for sophistication. Greeted at the main entrance, we were led to one end of the lower ground floor where the Adelphi bar is located, and seated at the bar, which ok for couples but if your party is any more than two book a table in the main restaurant.

The Cocktails

In addition to the classic cocktails head barman Ernest Reid (previously of the Boisdale) has created an array of speciality cocktails. His background and preference is for whiskey, but don’t let that deter you – all spirits are treated with equal measure. A well executed Vesper, made with Belvedere, Tanqueray 10 and Lillet Blanc (£13) proved Ernest’s skill, so we embarked on our journey through the mixology selection. The Sage & Grapefruit Spagliato (£13) made with Tanqueray 10 gin, grapefruit and Prosecco delighted the senses with its aromatics – this would make an ideal aperitif to awaken the taste buds before a meal.

Obliged to try a whiskey-based cocktail, we opted for the Orkney Bee, made from Highland Park 12, Lavendar, Lemon, Egg White (£14). This heady infusion was smooth and balanced sweetness with subtle but sharp lemon flavour. Both rum-based cocktails (£12 each) we tried were playful in flavours, the Phileas Grogg (made with Blackwell’s Rum, Falernum – a sweet syrup with flavours or almond and ginger, Guinness, chocolate bitters, cinnamon and nutmeg), in particular was less couture more curiosité.

To round off our evening, Ernest conjured up a couple of drinks not on the menu. If there are flavours that you are in the mood for but can’t spot on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask for your own bespoke beverage. As a big Mezcal (the lesser-known sibling of Tequila, made from the Agave plant), a Mezcal Tinez was bestowed upon me and I was very grateful for its succour.

The Bar Snacks

The bar snacks on offer range anywhere from salted caramel popcorn (£3) to a dozen Oysters (£34); however if you need a light bite with your drink we suggest not straying too far from our recommendations.
Firstly the buffalo cauliflower (£8), which is daubed in a spiced batter then briefly deep-fried, is succulent and has the texture of meat rather than vegetable. Despite probing questions we still didn’t work out how they made cauliflower taste this good.

The beef sliders – that is ‘mini burgers’ served in mini brioche buns to you and I – priced at £12 are made from the left over pieces of the meat that the main steaks served in the restaurant. Given the provenance and quality of the meat at Smith & Wollensky, these mini burgers have all the flavour you could desire and you may find yourself ordering another plate.

For a vegetarian options, the Stuffed Tinkerbell Peppers (£8) offers a colour and variety, each pepper with a different filling.

We also sampled the prime beef jerky. With no specific criticism to the offering of the Adelphi Bar, this food item should never be on a bar menu. It takes almost the same amount of time to eat as it does to make, so we would avoid ordering it, unless you’re looking for a way to dodge conversation.

Overall impressions

We rate the Adelphi Bar an overall 4 out of 5. The cocktails are faultless and the management at Smith & Wollensky have secured a reputable bar team. Backed-up with a handful of delicious and well-executed bar snacks, the overall menu and service get top marks, but expect to pay the the higher end of London prices in return. The only seating at the Adelphi Bar are bar stools and no other tables unless you’re eating at the restaurant, making it a destination suited to couples, anymore people and seating just becomes clumsy. For this we cannot give The Adelphi Bar top marks as a destination in it’s own right. If you’re on a date night we recommend, but if you’re out with friends the Adelphi Bar may not be the idea venue.

The Adelphi Bar is located on the lower ground floor of Smith & Wollensky, The Adelphi Building, 1-11 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HT.

To book at the Adelphi Bar visit smithandwollensky.co.uk  or call 020 7321 6007.