an American oasis in London

105 The Strand, London WC2R 0AA

Smollenskys desserts My guest Iain had just completed a long journey, leaving his beloved yacht back in South America and travelling to London via his Florida base. No time to stop on the way. So, on this cool autumn evening we both arrived with thoughts of Americana cuisine.

Smollensky's on the Strand, just a brief walk from the Savoy and the heart of London theater land, also offers an American oasis for other readers wanting to remember where they came from.

The doorway is typically small for London, but as is so common in this great metropolis, the stairs down into the venue open into a huge high ceilinged restaurant (with sports bar).

Smollenskys salmon and prawn Descending the stairs, we immediately heard a piano man, Billy Joel style tinkering and singing. The artist proved to be Charlie Sleeth whose entertaining repertoire incorporates an interesting variety of compositions such as Scott Joplin.

Smollenskys fresh salads The decor and the food reflect a strong American influence. So take good head of the advice offered on the menu - "Life is Uncertain ... so Choose Dessert First". The servings are generous but the desserts are superb.

Starters were Salmon and Prawn Fishcake (5.45), one of the best I've tasted since 1984 in the IMF staff restaurant DC, enhanced beautifully by the sweet chilli sauce. The Classic Caesar Salad (4.95) with Foccacia Croutons and Shaved Parmesan was unusual, crisp and fresh. The wine was of course had to be courtesy of Kendall-Jackson - Collage Zinfandel/Shiraz (1997 reserve) - bloody good stuff.

Smollenskys huge burgers My Busha Burger must have been easily 3" high between the bread and made with the very best of Aberdeen rump. It was cooked precisely as requested, incorporated mozzarella cheese and streaky bacon, accompanied with crunchy coleslaw and fries. Far too much for me to eat but so good I just had to finish it. We'd spotted the All-American Meat Loaf(8.95), so Sasha our very attentive and friendly waiter, arranged for us to get a sample. Again a great dish with shredded leeks and a generous portion.

Smollenskys desserts

Now to those desserts. Grandma Smollensky's Peanut Butter Cheesecake which had a slight peanut flavor, was smooth though heavy, covered in a delicious chocolate sauce and encircled with peanut crumbs. The White Chocolate Brownie came with the same silken chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream.

With seriously stressed stomach muscles, we sadly made our departure from the restaurant and decided to walk all the way to Waterloo station. On the way we stopped to roll our stretched stomachs against the reception desk in the Players Theater Club - 90ish annual membership, free entry to all shows, which are changed every 2 weeks. A great little club in which frequent London visitors folks to get to know people.

Smollensky's on the Strand Restaurant Tell a friend about Smollensky's

Tel: 0207 497 2101
Fax: 0207 836 3270

Hours: Mon-Wed noon-midnight
Thu-Sat noon-00:30
Sun noon-17:30, 18:30-23:00

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Wally Robertson and Iain Henderson, November 2001

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