Smyth - A Busy Holiday Morning

UPDATE: As of April 2011, Smyth has a new chef, Jason Gorman, formerly of Dream Dance Steak at Potawatomi Bingo Casino. Their brunch menu and concept has dramatically changed from this review. Please check them out and comment back here on the changes, and if they should be reviewed again.

Get your motor running and head off into another direction from Smyth at The Iron Horse Hotel. Located in a beautifully renovated 100-year old warehouse, The Iron Horse Hotel recently opened in Milwaukee in 2008. Being one the of the newest additions to the hotel scene, I wanted to see what guests to our city would experience for a Milwaukee brunch.

Driving south on Sixth Street, the hotel is located on the far end of the rotary. The commanding red brick building contrasts with the sleek white metal bridge leading from Downtown to Walker's Point. However, the valet and doorman warmly welcomes you into the building and reminds you to "enjoy your stay." Smyth is located right off the main lobby to the left. The wood pillars, steel and glass dividers and large leather couches make the weary traveler feel welcomed in.

Joining in brunch with me on Valentine's Day morning were Andrew, Chris and Andres. I made reservations online the day before just to be sure we would have a seat on this busy holiday morning. The host greeted us and sat our table of four after several other groups. Once we were seated, we had to wait for some time before we were given water or asked for our drink order. There was a confusing flurry of activity of servers, bussers, host and bartenders, however, our table seemed to be overlooked. After some time, Karen, our server, did start serving us water and telling us about the special of the day. At the time, we were more interested in getting our bloody marys and mimosas. After ordering, the host, who then was playing bartender, prepared the bloody marys with all the fixings ($8) and mimosas ($10) table-side.

The bloody marys were loaded with a celery stalk, pickle, beef stick, brussel sprout, pepperoncini, olive and a lime wedge, and it ended there. The drink itself was lacking the body, spice and richness of the add-ins. Watery and with no seasoning, the drink needed the extra items to make it worth the price in my opinion. The mimosa was served in a champagne flute (not a larger traditional glass), and was loaded with pulp. For the price of $10, I made sure this drink lasted the entire meal.

After we had our drinks and ordered our entrees, our server brought us out a small assortment of mini-muffins: blueberry, poppy seed and others. For a table of four, we were served six mini muffins. Needless to say, they did not last long. We asked our server for some more while we waited, and she informed us after some time the kitchen was out, but she would look for other muffins to serve us. We never did find out if there were more.

Our entrees were delivered among many empty water and coffee glasses. Chris had ordered the Crab Cake Benedict ($16). The large plate being set in front of him (and the price) made me think he was being served a large crab cake with a generous portion of breakfast potatoes. When the plate reached the table however, all of our jaws did the same. The presentation of food lead us to believe the kitchen forgot to place something on the dish. There was a large empty space next the eggs benedict. The run-of-the-mill crab cakes were topped with two poached eggs and a watery Hollandaise sauce. If the cakes had a special seasoning or the sauce was outstanding, I would understand the price. However, neither wowed us. The breakfast potatoes were nicely seasoned with rosemary.

Andres decided to try the Portobello Benedict ($16). This nice vegetarian option filled the plate better than the previous dish. The mushroom was nicely cooked and topped with roasted red peppers and two poached eggs. However, the same watery Hollandaise sauce covered the the eggs. The larger portion of the breakfast potatoes were a pleasant side to have on the plate. Once again, the high price tag seemed to promise an incrediable entree, but the reality did not live up to the hype.

Andrew and I both chose the Traditional Benedict ($15). When the plates were delivered to the table, if someone did not know what we ordered, you would not be able to tell they were the same entree. My food looked as if it was haphazardly thrown together on the plate. The eggs benedict were strewn about and had barely enough watery Hollandaise sauce to cover the eggs and English muffins. The large slice of ham, however, was nicely cooked, and I ended up eating that first. The portion of the potatoes were half that of the other plates on the table. Andrew's entree was nicely presented on two-thirds of the plate. His entree was also lacking a full-bodied Hollandaise sauce, and in my opinion, an essential for any benedict dish.

Since the hotel was undoubtedly sold-out for the weekend, the staff at Smyth were busy trying to keep up with the demands of a full restaurant. In my opinion, even though there were some inconsistencies of service, presentation and food quality, I would be willing to check out this restaurant again, perhaps on a less busy weekend.

What have been your experiences at Smyth? What are some other good entrees? Respond below in the comment section or suggest other places for me to try around Milwaukee!

All the details you want to know: (on a five star rating)

Smyth at The Iron Horse Hotel (**)
500 West Florida Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204

(414) 374-4766
Smyth at The Iron Horse Hotel on Urbanspoon

Brunch hours:
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Atmosphere: *** (pretty good)
Warm and welcoming in an nicely renovated warehouse hotel

Food: * (poor)
This visit seemed to miss it's mark.

Service: * (poor)
Seemed to be lost in the flurry of a busy morning.

Drinks: ** (ok)
Mimosa - ** (ok)
Bloody Mary - ** (ok)

Price: * (poor)
For the price, one would expect more flavor or a greater portion.
Category: , , , , ,
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