233 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
(212) 220-9200

There are plenty of wallet-draining steakhouse chains in the world. Smith & Wollensky, Palm, Fleming's, Del Frisco's, BLT, Ruth's Chris, and of course, my previous post's Capital Grille. These are no Outbacks or Longhorns; there isn't pop music or license plates on the walls, and there's no endless margarita for happy hour. These are primo, expensive joints with a steady clientele of executives and country clubbers. The thing is, in a city like this, with the options that we have, are they worth going to? That was the questions I asked of The Capital Grille, and I was answered with pretty solid "No". But not all chins are the same, so I moved on to Morton's. Actually, Morton's Grille, a more trendy, less stuffy, and slightly less expensive variant of the brand. I still ordered the filet mignon though.

This trip, I went with Dudeman and Shrink. They aren't big steak people and have the inexcusable habit of ordering it medium well. So I made a concerted effort to have them order something non-steak from the relatively varied menu. Stepping inside is a huge square bar that one could easily feel comfortable eating alone at. Or I suppose you could watch a game on the TVs, of which there are numerous. Beyond the bar sits a brand new, almost glistening dining room with an open, steaming hot kitchen. Our waiter, whose name escapes me, was very friendly, very personable, and did not at all behave the way the more aloof, fancypants steakhouse waiters tend to.

At the time, I had been hankering for a bisque or a chowder to start off the meal, so I was more than a little surprised that there wasn't any soup on the menu. Instead, I ordered Bacon & Eggs, the Morton's Grille version of deviled eggs, served with a little bacon on top and over a drizzle of Dijon mustard. It was good. I can't say that I was amazed by them, but I inhaled them inside of five minutes. Dudeman and Shrink ordered the Spicy Thai Mussels to share, mussels in a green curry broth with peanuts, basil, and cilantro. These were impressive. I can honestly say that I would have shied away from ordering the dish, but I was glad that they did. Very rich, almost sweet, and quite spicy. Don't expect mild. At almost the exact time that the appetizers were served, rather than long before, the bread arrived. It's was the sort of sloppy planning that made me worry about the rest of our experience. We should have shooed it away, but our better judgment had taken a bathroom break at that moment and upon the table was placed an entire loaf of onion bread that was literally the size of a bowling ball. Shrink couldn't stop raving about how amazing it was, and yes, we all used it to sponge up the sauce from the mussels, but really it should have come out far earlier.

For my entrée, I ordered the 10 oz. Filet Mignon, medium rare. This was the exact entrée that I ordered on my recent trip with Pike to Capital Grille. I had to compare the two. There was no comparison. It was phenomenal. Indeed, it's hard to describe just how tender it was save to say that if I wanted to, I probably could have cut it with a spoon. Capital Grille's filet mignon might as well have been made out of a brick. Just in case the steak was a letdown in the flavor department, I ordered a sauce on the side - The Bourbon Au Poivre - which was a total mistake. First, it was wholly unnecessary. The steak on its own was perfection incarnate. Second, although the sauce could have been very good, they loaded so much pepper into it that pepper was about all I could taste. Similar overkill went into the side of Asparagus Spears that we got for the table. While the asparagus itself was cooked perfectly, the chefs drizzled this extremely tart balsamic vinegar syrup over it that overpowered everything it came in contact with. I guess you could say that it's the asparagus you order when you hate asparagus.

Nonsteakwise, Dudeman got the Blackened Swordfish served over a veritable mountain of Smoked Gouda Grits. The swordfish was very good. The spices were proportioned to just the right degree. I've had many a blackened fish and more often than not, they go crazy with the spices to the point that it's all that you can taste. Here, not so. Plus you got a decent portion. The same can be said of the grits. Delicious and creamy, but it is super heavy and they gave Dudeman a ton of it. In the end, even with my help, most of the plate went uneaten just due to him feeling so full. Shrink ventured into territory I didn't see coming when she ordered the Cheeky Pot Roast, red wine braised beef cheeks with onion served over buttered egg noodles. She was skeptical about eating cheek, but in the end, loved it, and so did I. I would absolutely recommend this entrée. It's a classic American comfort food dish perfect for the cold weather.

In the end, had the bread come earlier and had I never ordered the sauce or the asparagus, I really wouldn't have had anything to complain about. Sure, the deviled eggs were forgettable, but everything else was delicious and the service was memorably good. It's a wee bit cheaper than the competition, which is nice too, but it's hardly where I'd go to penny pinch.

Two appetizers, three entrees, one side dish, two drinks, tax and tip came to about $210.

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