Smith & McKenzie, a fantastic family oriented steakhouse in Chartwell that is reminiscent of great New York steakhouses, opened in March 2009, taking over from an old Cobb & Co restaurant called The Charthouse. They spent their first 6 months just getting up and running, then closed their doors for the next 6 months to completely gut the building, redesign the space and fit it out as the modern industrial, old style butchery chophouse we've now all come to know and love - the fireplace in the main restaurant is the only feature that remained! A lot of the character features and meat hooks you'll see dotted around the place were salvaged from a Horotiu meat works building that had burned down.
Last year I was at the Business Excellence Awards dinner and the whole room seemed genuinely delighted for them when Smith & McKenzie received the Westpac Waikato Business Excellence Award for best Hospitality Business. Not only this, they went away with the Supreme Winner for Business Excellence 2014 award as well. They have also been judged New Zealand Best Restaurant twice by Hospitality New Zealand, in 2011 & 2014. That's a pretty good reason to check it out I'd say!
Toby Elliottyson, the General Manager of S&M has been an integral part of the business from the start and was fully involved with the renovation process. Trained as a chef which took him overseas for a while, he started his journey in hospitality in the kitchen at aged just 15 washing dishes. He says that to this day his first boss is still the best one he's ever had and that he was integral in mentoring him and getting him started on the path that has led him where he is now - a partner and shareholder in the Phoenix Group and the man in charge of around 40 employees, all working towards the same goal of trying to create a memorable experience for the customers every time. He works in partnership with his wife, whom he met working in the industry and after a stint running a restaurant up the Coromandel for a while, they decided to settle back in Hamilton. By all accounts it is a relationship and working partnership that really works and the happy staff, loyal customers and excellent reviews are a testament to what they have built together.
Whether you are heading to the bar for a snack and a few drinks after work, meeting friends there to watch a game, sitting in the restaurant for a family celebration dinner, enjoying a quiet meal with your partner or making use of their private function balcony, the atmosphere is always relaxed and friendly and the food never disappoints. They pride themselves on sourcing premium quality meats, supporting local farmers and growers wherever possible and on bringing the customer the best possible dining experience. The chefs are innovative, highly trained and very creative in their approach and you can see them hard at work in the partially open kitchen...
The quality of the food along with the friendly service is the reason that so many people are loyal clientele and keep going back. They in turn are rewarded for their loyalty with a really excellent points system, their Steak Holders Club. (In fact the last time we went in for an early evening snack and to sample the delights of the cheesecake festival, we paid for it entirely with accrued points!)
Smith & McKenzie have a Locals Hour every day from 4.30 - 6pm and a couple of regular nights:
- Monday night is kids night, where kids under ten dine for $2 and that $2 then gets donated back to their school or kindergarten. There is always some form of entertainment to keep them busy while the parents enjoy their meal and this turned an otherwise quiet night into one of their busiest and most popular. We could hardly believe it the first time we took a friend there for her birthday and it happened to be a Monday - what a luxury to be able to eat a peaceful meal and finish a sentence!
- Tuesday is quiz night with great drink deals and prizes up for grabs.
- Thursday is Royal Rack Rib night, where 1kg of their free farmed smoked BBQ ribs are just $25.
- On Sundays they do a roast dinner including dessert for $30.
They support Hukanui School weekly by giving a "Free cupcake & drink" voucher to each of the Stars of the Week and also host a fantastic annual Cheesecake Festival (reviewed here), which supports local schools and community groups. It has been going since 2000 and gets bigger and better every year - a great reason to pop out for dessert!
We've enjoyed numerous celebrations and meals at Smith & McKenzie since arriving in Hamilton a few years ago and would happily recommend it to anyone. We want to thank you all for the delicious food, thank you for the lovely service and thank you for the memories we've created there...
Love Holly & Family x