Friday, February 27, 2009

McCormick and Schmick's

Wanting to try something new, and wanting some seafood, we headed over to McCormick & Schmick’s at the Hilton downtown (full disclosure--it is a chain). As we walked in, we noticed how full this place already was and we were eating at 6:30. Unfortunately, the servers were a bit overwhelmed as the service started out pretty slow right from the beginning. Our server was very friendly, but it took quite awhile before we got our wine (in fact the table next to us got their appetizers before we got our wine and they came in after us).

Anyway, once our wine was delivered and our order placed, it picked up because they have several people besides the servers delivering the food. To start, we ordered the house mixed greens salad and the mussels. Both of these things were really good. The salad was mixed greens with blue cheese and candied walnuts with a really tangy vinaigrette—I really liked it and though sometimes candied walnuts are too sweet for me, these were perfect to balance out the tangy dressing. And the portion size was spot on for one person (although we shared the two apps).

We also had the mussels in a broth of white wine, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh herbs—these were some of the best mussels I have had around here. They were fresh and properly cooked and the broth had a great flavor. Every mussel was open and the portion size and price was appropriate (a serving for one person was $6.95). I was really impressed with these.

Oh, as I sit thinking about them and dipping my bread into the broth, I should say, if you want bread, be sure and ask for it (preferably when you make your drink order I think). Honestly, I am not sure if they don’t bring it unless you ask or if they just forgot ours, but I didn’t see enough people with it on their table to be sure. But it was nice crusty bread with butter that was a nice accompaniment to the salad and the mussels.

For our mains, I ordered the King Crab Legs off the Featured Wild Seafood section of the menu—they were advertised as being from the Early Dawn fishing boat from The Deadliest Catch show. I used to watch this show incessantly with hubby so I was intrigued. It is funny how a show can influence restaurants as this is the third restaurant in Indy that I have seen advertise its catch from one of these boats. Anyway, the crab was very good and there was more than enough of it. Simply prepared and served with drawn butter, I really enjoyed it. However, the corn on the cob and roasted potatoes served alongside as the “traditional sides” were not so good. The potatoes were just plain and didn’t have much flavor. The corn was heavily seasoned on the top side and the first (and only) bite I took was pure salt, it was horrible. And who tries to pass off corn on the cob in February anyway (especially in Indiana). I should have asked for different sides. I was going to, but thought I would see what they regularly served in order to see if they could wow me. Like I said, the crab was very good, the sides, not.

Hubby had the mixed grill with a crab cake, sautéed sea bass and salmon served over risotto and with asparagus on the side. He really liked the sea bass (I had a bite, it was quite tasty) and he liked the crab cake (not bad, moister than the last one I had elsewhere) and very crabby. He was not happy with the salmon as it was very overcooked (salmon really benefits from being medium rare and this was very well done). At first he claimed both the risotto and asparagus to be too al dente and didn’t like either, but after a few more bites of the risotto, informed me it had “grown on him” and finished it. He skipped the asparagus however.

His dinner came with a “signature” espresso crème brulee (they have several price fixed dinners you can order that come with soup or salad and/or dessert.) He loves crème brulee, but didn’t like this---tasted too much like coffee. I for one, have never understood why a dessert needs to taste like coffee—why not just order coffee? We had a look at the dessert tray (something a little weird about plastic coated ice cream) and they all looked too huge to order—strange since the other items were more reasonably sized.

Anyway, generally, this place has a similar theme to many of the seafood restaurants in the City. The seafood is flown in daily, the menu changes daily, lists what is fresh at the top and then lists preparations for each thing throughout the menu. I think I enjoyed this one more than several of the others simply because the prices and portions are much more reasonable and you feel like you can just order what you want and not have to figure out the complicated math equation of who will share what with whom (i.e. a salad serves 1, not 4). As for the food, it was generally quite good, especially the appetizers. I would happily go back, get a salad and two appetizers I think next time.

The clear places for improvement at McCormick and Schmick’s are the service and the side dishes. I like that they come with the dinner and you don’t have to pay extra for them, but they need to improve the preparation and flavor of them—I see the things served on the side as just as important a part of the plate as the main ingredient. They should complement each other, not just fill up the plate.

However, regardless of my thoughts on improvement, this place is certainly thriving; it was completely full the entire time we were there. So they are obviously doing some things right!

McCormick & Schmick's
110 North Illinois Street
Indy 46204

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been to the M&S in Indy yet, but all the locations have the same Happy Hour deal. The fish tacos were outstanding in Chicago, that's the only thing I'd ever order.