A, B, C, D, E, F, M at W. 4th St.-Washington Sq.
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This venue is closed.
Smith’s is Danny Abrams’s first recent venture without his former chef-partner, Jimmy Bradley. Together, at their successful restaurants Red Cat, Harrison, and the Mermaid Inn, they perfected a much-imitated brand of casual, neighborly, high-bistro dining. Abrams was the duo’s front-of-the-room man (he’s partnered here with the eponymous Cindy Smith), which may account for the new restaurant’s more studied, boutique feel. There’s a semi-open café up front and behind it two single rows of tables, with another Oriental rug running between them. This potentially dreary space is colored in a clean black-and-white motif and lit up with mirrors patterned across the top of the narrow, gabled ceiling. With the little bar hidden in the back, it’s a cozy, even graceful setup, especially early in the evening. But as the little rooms fill up, the decibel levels rise, and it can feel like you’re dining in the back end of a crowded twenties-era saloon car.
It’s a saloon car with pretty good food, however. The Bradley-Abrams partnership was defined by Bradley’s sophisticated take on relatively unsophisticated bistro favorites, like calf’s liver, crispy skate wing, and the fabled double-cut pork chop, which is still attracting crowds at Red Cat. The chef at Smith’s is Bouley alumnus Pablo Romero, who favors the kind of careful, painterly, potentially twee compositions made famous by his mentor. You’ll find the usual litany of de rigueur Greenmarket ingredients on the menu (fall beans, baby beets, “line caught” bass), but calf’s liver isn’t one of them. There’s a pork chop, but it’s not double cut and is served off the bone, in a delicate, almost seafood-size fillet. Romero has a fondness for braising and poaching, and many of his recipes feature an impressive variety of decorative reductions and purées. I even detected a few exotic foams in my dinner, the most conspicuous of which appeared early in the meal, wreathed around a bowl of organic, Gorgonzola-infused polenta and a single steamed egg.Note
If you find yourself trapped in the bar, there’s a special menu, including lobster deviled eggs and a grilled Taleggio-cheese sandwich.