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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
BATTLE OF THE
BIG LEAGUE STEAKHOUSES
The Capital Grille, Morton's, Palm, Ruth's Chris and Shula's are all fine steakhouses, there's no doubt about that and not everybody is going to agree on which one is the best. However we have some thoughts and comments.
Starting with the Capital Grille, in alphabetical order, it has the feel of a fine gentlemen's club with rich paneling. The only drawback is that sometimes, depending on where you are seated, you definitely feel cramped. The service is great, the steaks good and there are some other great items on the menu including some of the most delicious roasted chicken we've ever encountered in a restaurant. Side dishes here go way beyond the traditional creamed spinach and broccoli with a giant tub of hollandaise sauce.
Morton's is probably the king of the national chain steakhouses in terms of reputation and price. The service is second to none and the steaks always come out cooked to perfection. Morton's has an excellent appetizer list to start your meal out with. Morton's takes the cake for the most ritzy and dignified dining setting. However we feel that the atmosphere is a little stuffy here. The lights are so dim that when you come in after being out in the bright sunshine, it takes time to focus!
The Palm is a lot less stuffy than Morton's and has what we consider the most knowledgeable servers in the steakhouse world. Their lobster bisque is to dye for. The menu is a little more diverse here than at other steakhouses and they have a few pasta dishes for those who need the carbs.
Ruth's Chris is a great place for steaks and whether you're dining in Cancun or New Orleans at the original location, you're guaranteed a great piece of meat. And their creamed spinach is the best we've ever had at a steakhouse. Other main courses are offered here including chicken and lamb dishes but to be honest with you, we've never been able to bring ourselves to order anything but a nice, juicy steak here. The atmosphere is nice but not pushy or stuffy. The wait staff is more than adequate.
Don Shula's is a shrine to outstanding meat. The menu is featured on a Miami Dolphins football and it's a casual but elegant dining experience. The wait staff is very professional but at the same time fun. Our only complaint is that when they come to your table with a tray full of all the cuts of meat they offer along with the four pound live lobster, their spiel is a little bit over rehearsed. Choices other than beef are a bit more limited here but as mentioned at the top of the page, this review is about steakhouses and in our opinion, this one tops the list when you consider everything.
If you haven't had the good fortune of dining at any or all of these restaurants---and they aren't cheap---check out their web sites: Capital Grille, Morton's, The Palm, Ruth's Chris, and Don Shula's. Honorable mention has to go out to one of our favorites, too, Lawry's Prime Rib.
When it comes to individual, stand alone steakhouses, there are dozens of fine eateries around the nation and world. Our favorite in the United States is Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Florida. Incredible from one of the world's largest wine lists (the size of a phone book) to the finest aged meat to a memorable ending to the meal in the dessert room upstairs.
Outside of the U.S., our finest encounter with a steak has come in Florence, Italy at a place called Trattoria Omero. One of the finest porterhouses I've ever devoured.