At the request of my sister and her husband whose birthdays are a week apart, we took them to Capital Grille to celebrate. My sister had heard about the lobster mac and cheese and wanted to try it.
We had a very enthusiastic waiter who was extremely happy to see us all, and had quite a giddy manner about him. At least it seemed like he liked his job, which was good, but by the end of the evening, it was a tad grating on the nerves.
I think because it was a birthday, they brought us an amuse-bouche (I have never had one before at Capital Grille). It was half a shrimp with some marinated tomatoes. Honestly, I wasn’t overly impressed with it. Really just basic shrimp flavor. At least it wasn’t overcooked, but there was nothing really exciting about it. But there was also nothing “waking up the taste buds” about it either. We did enjoy the bread basket, particularly the onion bread. It was nice and soft with some soft cooked onions on the crust that were tasty.
Anyway, we decided to share a starter of the lobster and crab cakes which were not bad. I think everyone else liked them a bit more than I did, but then again, I rarely meet a crabcake type dish I really like. As they go, they weren’t bad. There were some nice hunks of lobster in there, although the crab was that typically stringy type you often see in crab cakes. The tarter-ish type sauce and salsa of corn and peppers were nice.
Hubby and I had already decided we would just split a simple steak and then get a salad and lots of sides. We split the spinach salad which was the traditional steakhouse spinach salad with mushrooms, red onions, boiled egg and bacon with a warm bacon vinaigrette. In my opinion, once it was split, it was the appropriate size for a salad. My sister and her hubby had the clam chowder and just thought it was ok. (I didn’t try it though)
Hubby and I split the filet. It was 10 ounces, and there is no petite option listed on the menu so I was really glad about that. No way would I be able to eat 10 ounces of meat by myself. The meat itself was good; probably not the best steakhouse steak in this town (my guess is this is choice meat and not prime, but it’s just a guess), but it was cooked properly. However, the thing that annoyed all of us at the table was the “au jus/demi glace.” This is a constant annoyance with me and hubby because I don’t like a sweet flavor on my steak. But interestingly, before either of us said anything, my brother in law had asked the manager who stopped by what it was because it was so sweet. She told him it was just “au jus” and nothing more. Now to me, that means, the juice of the actual meat, maybe reduced, but not with other things added in. According to wikipedia, that is what it means in general, but apparently in the U.S., it often means a reduction with various spices, etc as well as brown sugar mixed in. Regardless, I don’t think any of us cared for it. Luckily my plate was large enough that I could scoot my steak out of the “au jus,” but my brother in law was not as lucky because his steak was bigger. I need to make a mental note, every time I go to a steakhouse, ask if there is a sauce on the plate and get it without.
Anyhow, we also had the lobster mac and cheese which was as usual, very good. There are nice recognizable pieces of lobster in it (usually claw meat) and the pasta is sort of horn shaped. It is really tasty. Last time I was there, they had truffle mac and cheese which was also very good. I waiver between which I think is better actually, although the truffle mac is not usually on the menu.
Probably the best thing on the table were the truffle frites (yes yes, I really like truffles). They are a little thicker than I usually like with fries, but they are really crisp, with just enough salt, truffle oil and grated parmesan to make them taste decadent. My favorite thing was a bite of steak with a bite of a frite. Yummy.
We also ordered the creamed spinach (hubby’s perennial favorite at a steakhouse). It was good. Probably in the middle of all the places we have been. Not the best, not the worst. Tasty though and I nice green-ish addition (I say that because with all that cream, you can’t really think it is all that healthy right?)
As part of the birthday celebration, they brought us a duo of desserts and some sparkling wine. That was a nice touch. The desserts included a round cheesecake with a crème brulée type crunchy top. I rather enjoyed that take on cheesecake. I like cheesecake ok, but usually I find it kind of boring. The crunchy top added a texture that made it more interesting. There was also a piece of their flourless espresso chocolate cake. I don’t know. These cakes have been on menus so long, I find them kind of lacking any excitement and preferred the cheesecake. Others at the table enjoyed the chocolate cake though.
All in all, while everything at Capital Grille is good, I have never had a meal there that I found to be outstanding. I have several friends who really like this place and I would certainly go again, I just don’t know that it would ever be on the top of my list for an evening out.
The Capital Grille
40 West Washington Street