Saturday, May 31, 2008

Is Capital Grille King of the Steaks?

Let's not beat around the bush here. Capital Grille, once the time honored grandpappy of the brown moo has slipped at least a notch.

It seems that since Darden Restaurants, Inc. acquired the stuffy chain in 2007, they have relinquished some level of quality control. For those who don't know, Darden is the proud owner of such fine dining establishments such as Red Lobster and the Olive Garden.

Service was excellent. Our server named Robert was a witty, likable character who performed his tasks to excellence.

Dinner opened with a Shrimp Cocktail, Lobster Bisque, and a Lump Crab Appetizer. The shrimps were perfectly cooked, but extremely small size crustaceans for a $15 appetizer. I was expecting jumbo or at least extra large for that price. The Bisque was very light on the lobster meat, heavy on the cream, but good and served at the proper temperature. The Lump Crab appetizer was the winner, served in a martini glass, chilled with cocktail sauce. Overall I ranked the appetizers as "good".

Next on the list were the salads. I was disappointed in my Capital Grille Chopped Salad. The presentation was poor and the dressing was just okay. Also tasted was the special salad of the night which was a lump crab meat salad with avocado. This was the winner of the salads. I remember the chopped salad having more visually stimulating greens and vegetables. Overall I ranked the salads as "Okay".

Finally, it was time to forget the appetizers and salads, this is the Capital Grille, where men come to eat steaks and leftovers are unheard of. Ordered were the 14 oz fillet, and a New York Strip. The fillet was ordered medium and came out medium well. The outside was charred and actually tasted burnt and was shell-like. The center of the cut was tender and flavorful as a $43 steak should be. The strip was cooked medium and was very good. The sides were lyonaise potatoes and creamed spinach. Both were very good. The potatoes in particular were the highlight of the night.

Desert was a creme brulee and cherry cobbler. Both were fantastic. The cappuccino's were well prepared and the rock candy swizzle stick adds a touch of class. No messing around with desert here

I'm afraid that Capital Grille has fallen a few notches on my list of fine steakhouses. Of the dozen or so times I have eaten there, the last two times have not been wholly satisfying. Not that the food is not good, it is tasty. But a top tier steak house with super-premium prices should have done a better job on the food itself. Their service remains a staple of excellence; however, for the overall experience I cannot give the Capital Grille a sterling recommendation. There are too many other premium steak houses in South Florida to spend the money here. Sorry Capital Grille, I expected better.


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