The Capital Grille – Preview Lunch
I recently managed to get a reservation to dine at The Capital Grille’s newest location, down by Wall Street, during their friends/family preview days – which means that yes, this meal was comped (minus drinks), though it had absolutely nothing to do with being a food blogger – just was in the right place at the right time, shall we say? The above menu was given to myself and my dining companion, though we were told we could order from the regular menu that was also given to us “to look over for future reference” – and even all of that would be comped.
The rolls were crusty and yummy, the butter soft and spreadable (one of my biggest pet peeves is being served rock hard butter; couple that with not-hot rolls, and I’m likely to start thinking the restaurant just doesn’t put enough thought into the little things; thankfully, this was SO not the case here!) though our basket was taken away before I could sample the interesting flat cracker as well.
We opted to start with the wagyu beef carpaccio. Lightly dressed and served with a pile of rocket in the center, topped with slices of grana padano, the pepperiness of the rocket really went well with the super soft, super thin beef slices. Bear in mind, I don’t actually like arugula on a normal basis; this was the first time I’d been pleased with its peppery taste in a dish I’ve consumed (a small number of times, I’ve been alright with it, but this was the first time I really thought hey, this not only works, it works well). I enjoyed this dish.
Next up was a special not on the menu… lobster mac & cheese. I was too busy enjoying it to take a picture of a spoonful, but let’s just say it was topped generously with lobster meat – claws and tail meat; with the crunchy bits sprinkled on top, plus the sharp cheese they’d used… bliss. My only complaint was the cheese being slightly watery/thin, but as the meal progressed, it came together better and made for heavenly eating. Of course, my arteries were clogging as I consumed it, but it was totallyTOTALLY worth it. Oh, and they used these pretty ear/flute shaped pasta… was interesting. And held a ton of cheese… omg yum. I would go back again just to get this – when lobster’s in season – I think this dish was marked on the receipt as $19 normally. (And yes, it’s pricey, but you could eat that for lunch and be good. Trust me. There’s got to be a pound of cheese in there.)
Also not on our little menu – truffled parmesan fries. I’m not that into truffles, so I was especially pleased that the truffles barely came through – yes, you could smell them, but very briefly – but if you really love truffles and want to taste them, this may not be the best option. Or you should ask them to boost the truffle oil. Whichever. The fries were properly crispy, delicious, and the parmesan was a welcome addition to them.
My 8 ounce filet mignon. It’s true that I am a rib eye kind of gal; however, this being what was on the menu, plus do I really want to eat all of the above, PLUS a huge rib eye??? No… not really. I decided to try whatever was on the menu. It looks a lil sad on the plate with just a bit of au jus and watercress to the side, yes?
I, on the other hand, was not sad at all. My steak was cooked perfectly to medium rare (my request), and like butter. I could rave about how delicious this steak was, but let’s be honest: it’s a steakhouse, and quite a large chain one, at that. Do you really expect their steak to suck or not be at the very least above average? This was above average, but at the same time, it’s what I expect from a steakhouse at this price point, at this location, at this level. Is it worth its price? Sure, if you need a place for a business lunch or dinner (because this location is in the Financial District; I don’t really think people take other people on dates down there unless they live down there). It’s quality steak with prices that reflect that quality.
Because we are piggies, we opted to split a dessert just to try it. Unfortunately, neither of us are sweets people, so perhaps it was wasted on us. I was disappointed to hear the dessert menu did not contain any non-chocolate items beyond cheesecake (which I don’t really like)… Where is the custard, the creme brulee, maybe flan or panna cotta??? Even tiramisu was glaringly absent!
In any case, this is a chocolate chocolate ice cream sandwich. Though it’s hard to see in the above picture, our wonderful server was pouring a super thick fudgey sauce over the top in that picture, which you can see in the below picture.
The cookie part was very thick, chewy, and dense – in all the ways you want a chocolate fudge cookie to be – and the ice cream was wonderfully creamy. Would I order this again – for myself – absolutely not, but that’s not their fault. It was just way too sweet for me.
Here I take a moment to rave about our service and our server. Apparently, at The Capital Grille, you can request a server if you’ve particularly liked one in the past, so: if you decide to visit The Capital Grille at Time Warner Center – his usual location – request Ken Handler because he was awesome. He explained everything to us very clearly, he bent over backwards to make sure we were enjoying ourselves, and though he checked on us he was never intrusive or annoying. He wasn’t pushy nor did he try to upsell us – particularly given that this was a free preview lunch, and we’re women (a demographic of notoriously bad tippers), he never tried to push that angle. Overall, he made certain we knew that The Capital Grille is all about service; if you have special dietary requirements, if you need something special for an event you’d like to host there, just call ahead of time and ask. They will likely accommodate it, if they can. I thought that was pretty amazing; his knowledge of the history of The Capital Grille and his entire demeanor was just great.
(And yes, we tipped him on the full amount of the bill. That’s proper etiquette for those that don’t know… yes, I’m talking about the table next to us of 4 ladies who got up from the table and left absolutely nothing. The wait staff is still working hard, even though you’re eating for free. Tip. End of rant.)
Yvo says: Keeping in mind that we only paid for our wine (sparkling for me!), the food was still very good. However, being that it’s a steakhouse of a certain reputation, at a specific price point, catering to a very particular demographic, I will say that, aside from the lobster mac & cheese, everything was pretty standardly delicious. Nothing blew my mind nor was above expectations, given those criteria. What really set The Capital Grille apart from the other steakhouses for me is really the service. We were never ignored, despite this being the 2nd day of their preview week – and I’m fully aware that many places have opening week glitches – they even brought their more experienced servers from the other locations around the city down to train the new ones, to help make sure things ran smoothly. The attention to detail really gives this place a slight edge; I fully recommend it for your business dining needs (again, I specify business because of its location; I’m sure it would be great to take a date as well or just eat with the boys, but bear in mind, when you’re done eating, you’re only a block from the NYSE and basically, at night, the entire neighborhood is ghost town).