I vowed never to go back to Smith again. It was the great snow storm of 2008, and all the restaurants on Capitol Hill were so busy one could barely secure a table anywhere. Because driving was an equally impossible task, all manner of people were walking to any foodery they could find. When QFC’s shelves started to empty, the panic set in.
This is the general hysteria into which I walked when attempting to go to Smith. Not only was there truly cacophonous clamor evading from the doors, but there was no space to wait for our table inside, out of the snow-covered ground. Granted, we had a group of 6, but even a group of 2 was being quoted a 1.5 hour wait. We went on to 22 Doors and squished into a booth and had a less than amazing time, disgruntled as we were by frostbite and Smith rejection.
I am rather glad that I decided to give Smith another chance. I decided to meet my lovely friend in crime (with whom I’ve gallivanted all over town in a weekly search for an authentic German pub) for happy hour. I opened the doors that once kicked me on the way out and noticed immediately the wonderful din of quiet conversation and beer swigging.
Our bartender was awesome! He managed to keep our lovely Belgians filled and recommend some saucy episodes of South Park…and I don’t even watch South Park. I am the kind of beer drinker that actually likes talking to bartenders, and he knew precisely where to interject in our conversation and when to get lost. I really the underrated the social prowess of a good barkeep, for surely a bartender is just as much a sociologist, psychologist, and philosopher as he is a drink slinger.
Truly one of their most wonderful assets is their menu. The happy hour prices were totally reasonable; I tried the macaroni and peas*. My side-kick ordered the great sweet potato fries with a sage aioli that was dangerously tasty. My mister arrived sometime later and ordered the pork loin…and that was some tasty swine.
First impressions are hard to break. Though I have come around to appreciate what Smith has to offer Capitol Hill, I will never forgive a place that does not attend to the noise-factor in initial design. I was there when Smith was both obnoxiously loud and pleasantly vacant and in either case, the open-room design is their fatal flaw.
Smith, you are forgiven. Your beer, service, and eats demand respect…but only on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30pm.
the secret snob
*DISCLAIMER: Though I am a self-proclaimed and proud snob, I do not deny my white trash upbringing and consequential subconscious gravitational pull towards said cuisine.