Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"Discover New Programs"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
May 13, 1999

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Smith & Wollensky


Smith & Wollensky

Smith and Wollensky is probably the largest free-standing restaurant in Nevada—at 680 seats, it is enormous by any standards. It is designed to do one thing with the hordes of tourists who now pack our city, head ‘em up and move ‘em out. Yes, the cattle call mentality of up-scale eateries is given the fullest flourish here. All cannily disguised as an up-scale steakhouse that tries to mimic the idiom of the classic beef emporiums of New York City. On some levels it almost succeeds. Its bold and bright green and white building sticks out like a sore thumb as you go down the strip—just like its predecessor in mid-town Manhattan. Not to worry you say to yourself, at least they’ll have first class prime beef, great lobsters, and that brusquely efficient service that the genre is known for, well two out of three ain’t bad. What’s missing of course is the same thing mess halls everywhere lack, good service, for when you aspire to feed that many mouths, something’s gotta give. And while you hardly have the hair nets and surliness of most cafeterias, you do have interminable waits, meaningless reservations, and lots of waiters constantly apologizing for being out of lots of things.

So make no mistake, Smith and Wollensky is a corporate money machine pure and simple, right down to its over-priced liquor and gift shop. The hope of the big money boys is of course, that so many conventioneers and high rollers spending their expense accounts won’t mind. As for the rest of us dropping a buck fifty or two, there are plenty of alternatives in town that make you feel welcome, serve food just as good, if not better, and don’t make you feel like one of the herd in the process. For you I suggest Prime, Delmonico’s, Alan Albert’s, Palm, Ruth’s Chris, or even my old bugaboo Morton’s—where at least reservations are adhered to, specials really are, and the bar doesn’t double as a stockade.

This is John Curtas.

See discussion rules.


Nov 24, 2010 | Thanksgiving 2010 - Another Beanie Reveal
John Curtas delves into family history to discover the real story behind Grandma Schroader's Sour Beans.

Nov 19, 2009 | Valentino -- You don't know the truffles I've seen
According to Food Critic John Curtas, no other Italian restaurant in Las Vegas has performed at such a high level for so long.

Oct 1, 2009 | Blow It Up
In at least one part of town, our dining critic John Curtas says the food used to be a lot better.

Sep 25, 2009 | Social Media Meltdown
For our dining critic, John Curtas, social media has started to intrude on dining out.

Sep 2, 2009 | Discovering LOS ANTOJOS
Our dining critic John Curtas finds a new affordable favorite.

Aug 20, 2009 | Chinois R.I.P.
For John Curtas the recent closing of Wolfgang Puck's first Las Vegas restaurant brings back memories.

Aug 3, 2009 | Food, Inc.
John Curtas turns movie reviewer today - but the subject is in his usual area of expertise. Hear his review of "Food, Inc."

Jul 16, 2009 | The Steak That Saved Las Vegas
Dining critic John Curtas finds some steak aged for EIGHT MONTHS and he tells us how it tastes.

Jul 2, 2009 | Bang for Your Buck
Everyone's food budget is tighter these days. But if you still want to dine out now and then, our dining critic John Curtas has a few tips on restaurants now giving you more bang for your buck.

Jun 19, 2009 | Whassup with Wazuzu
Explore Dining Critic John Curtas' love/hate relationship with Wazuzu. If you want to spice up your dinner go for at least a "4 or 5."

Jun 12, 2009 | Two Farmer's Markets
Fresh, locally produced food has become a big trend across the U.S. Our food critic, John Curtas, says there's more of this trend in Las Vegas than you might think.

Jun 4, 2009 | MandM Soul Food
John Curtas tells us about one of his favorite dining spots - a surpsingly affordable one.

May 28, 2009 | Checkpoint Charlie
While fine dining has seen a downturn in Las Vegas in recent months, our dining critic John Curtas says at least one dining legend intends to stay put. Charlie Trotter is standing pat in Las Vegas. John Curtas reviews Resturant Charlie.

May 8, 2009 | Food Festival Frenzy!
It's a time of many food festivals in Las Vegas. John Curtas has an overview.

May 5, 2009 | Peppermill Coffee Shop and Fireside Lounge
A landmark Las Vegas restaurant gets a visit from John Curtas. He takes you to the Peppermill.

Apr 23, 2009 | Thai Me Up Thai Me Down
Thai cuisine is starting to show up in more places in Las Vegas. John Curtas has some recommendations

Apr 9, 2009 | A Gourmet Corner - In Spring Valley?
Food Critic John Curtas takes a trip to the strangest gourmet corner in town.

Apr 2, 2009 | Pip's is a Pip
If you're looking for good dining near Aliante, our dining critic, John Curtas, has found a new place to go.

Mar 26, 2009 | Stripped to Its Bare Essentials
Dining on steak at Planet Hollywood! John Curtas takes you along.

Mar 19, 2009 | Hachi is absolutely amazing!
John Curtas has a find - a Japanese-fusion restaurant on the west edge of the city.

Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.