The Unvegan

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A Massive T-Boner at Smith & Wollensky

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Smells like bread.

We all cherish those moments in life where we have the privilege of basking in luxury and feeling like we are rich. Last night, I was extraordinarily lucky to eat with one of my best friends at Smith & Wollensky in Chicago and got to enjoy luxury without any of the drawbacks because, well, he has the hook up.

With seats outside overlooking the Chicago River and downtown skyline on a beautiful night, we were ready to indulge. Immediately after sitting down, our drink orders were taken (I ordered a Diet Coke because I prefer soda paired with food to alcohol), and we were brought a plate of warm, fresh bread. The bread was outstanding, seasoned with salt and garlic, and it took every ounce of our willpower to turn down a second round when we finished the plate. We were voraciously hungry and there for a feast but this would be a marathon, not a sprint. More bread now would come at the expense of stomach room for steak later, so we begrudgingly delayed gratification.

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8 ounces to freedeom!

My Diet Coke came in an 8 ounce glass bottle, which would normally present an interesting trade-off. On one hand, glass bottles contain the best carbonation distribution, so if you are striving to maximize taste as your primary motivation, this is the ideal way to consume Diet Coke. On the other, the fact that the bottle is only 8 ounces means that unless you have some sort of otherworldly superpower that contains thirst, you will have to order two or three with your meal and that can add up pretty fast. At this meal, though, I got all the upside and none of the downside from the 8 ounce bottle, so I was a smitten kitten with this development.

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A little warm up with meat-on-cheese action.

When the waiter came around again, we ordered a charcuterie board as a starter and truffled mac and cheese and mashed potatoes as sides. For the main course, my friend ordered a 10 oz filet mignon with shrimp and I ordered a bone-in T-Bone steak. Making sure there would be no repugnant off-menu surprises of the greener variety, I asked the waiter if any vegetables came with the T-Bone and was assured that the integrity of my meal would not be compromised.

A few minutes later, the charcuterie board arrived and we were more than happy with the selection. The presentation was beautiful; the plate included steak and pork terrine, ponchetta, prosciutto, sopresatta, tasso, coppo, pate, manchego cheese, grand cheese, apple chutney, whole grain mustard, marcona almonds, and baguette. There was also some asparagus and peppers which, of course, went untouched. The charcuterie board was delicious and definitely prepared us for the main course.

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Have bone with my steak.

When our steaks arrived, they were still sizzling in glory. I dug into my T-Bone with reckless abandon, gobbling flavorful bites as if it would be taken away from me in the unfortunate event that I didn’t finish in a certain amount of time. This was without a doubt one of the best steaks I have ever eaten and a testament to what is possible when the highest quality input ingredients meet artful preparation. I supplemented the steak with bites of the mac and cheese that had a divine combination of creaminess, crunchiness, and cheesiness. I actually didn’t eat the mashed potatoes because something about the grittiness of mashed potatoes in general grinds my gears. But if you’re into that, I was informed that they were also quite tasty.

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Can I get this in a to-not-go bag please?

Mere minutes after our food had arrived, we had finished about 75% of our steaks and 60% of the mac and cheese. Even though we had shown no signs of slowing down (we aren’t, after all, amateurs), a hostess teased us that we had barely touched the mac and cheese. Although we would certainly not have needed it to complete the mission, this challenge gave us a renewed lease on life as we reached deep into our stomachs to power through the rest of our steaks and the side. Shortly thereafter, our plates triumphantly clean, we asked the hostess if we could get our nonexistent mac and cheese leftovers wrapped up to take home and were greeted with a wry smile that conveyed tacit approval for our accomplished mission.

Although the dessert selection looked tasty, we abstained. We turned down what surely would have been a delectable sugary creation not because we couldn’t have twisted and turned our full stomachs to create room for a piece of cake (really, I swear!), but because we had social obligations later in the night and only wanted to fight through a mild food coma as opposed to what would have been a Stage-5-lie-down-for-an-hour-and-groan-in-pleasure food coma that dessert would have pushed us into.
Our meal at Smith & Wollensky met and exceeded all expectations and we gave our highest compliments to the appreciative, humble sous chef Carlos. The man is a master at his craft and does, I believe, important work. It obviously isn’t somewhere I could afford to eat with any regularity but it is definitely somewhere I will return to when I am seeking luxury (read: when I win the lottery or my parents are in town).

-Another fantastic guest blog courtesy of @RGSpiegel, follow his blog here.