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Apr 3, 2002 10:36 AM

Caucus Room: Any Comparisons To Morton's, Capital Grill, etc?

  • j

Porterhouse, sides, especially their coconut cake?

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  1. I haven't been to the Caucus Room, so you are probably wondering why I am even responding to this post.

    Well, a few months ago my wife wanted a steak. So I called around on a Thursday evening for a Saturday night reservation for two, and was shut-down at my top 5 choices. I find this INCREDIBLE considering the proliferation of steak joints in DC alone, not to mention all the places popping up in the 'burbs, especially Tysons (Shula's, Fleming's, etc.) that should be relieving some of the pressure. What is with the demand for a $38 steak?

    Anyway, my quick take on several of them reads like this, roughly in order of preference:

    1) Prime Rib - Virtually the only place I will go for beef if I get to choose the restaurant. First class decor, service and food. I don't think anyone even consider's PR a steak house.

    2) Capital Grill - Very civilized, well spaced tables, professional waiters, nice aged meat. Not convenient to me, but a well-run place.

    2) Sam & Harry's - Kind of an odd space, where there doesn't seem to be a lot of good tables. Seems a little corporate. Lot's of large parties. I've had some trouble with the service (steak arrives 1 minute after my appetizer is served, steak arrives raw, waiter says "What fish? It's a steak joint." Ugh.)

    3) Morton's - Probably the worst decor, feels like a Marriot. Food is fine. Wine mark-up is outrageous. And they have a terrible practice of not assigning you one waiter. Instead, three of four different people will stop by your table a minute after you've been seated and ask if you're ready to order. Other diners don't ever feel like locals, but rather a group of out-of-town bankers who didn't bother to ask if there was a better place in town.

    4) Smith & Wollensky - Seems much more casual than the others, more of a bar/saloon. I don't particularly care for S&H, but I like two things: there little "Grill" next door serves a great, affordable hamburger, and the restaurant has nice outdoor tables. If they would serve the steak salad on a plate instead of in a tippy, wooden bowl, I'd have lunch there more often.

    5) Palm - In my opinion, you can't go to the Palm unless they know you. Invariably, I'm given a table in the front room, which is obviously Siberia, and treated like I should be grateful they even let me in (which they really didn't). I don't need to humbled when I'm paying $200 for dinner.

    6) Bobby Van's - The place was built all wrong. The booths are too big for two, but too small for four. The table down the middle are small and crowded. The wait staff has no experience, and tries to fake it, making it even worse. I understand they've got some of the best steaks in the area, too bad I'll never go back to try it again.

    7) Ruth's Chris - Sub-par. Simply not in the same league as the others, from drink, to salad, to appetizer, to entree. Food and service. That said, they are the ONLY steak place in Bethesda, so if I don't want to drive back downtown, I'm there.

    8) Angelo & Maxie's and Nick & Stefs - Haven't been to either one, and haven't heard from anybody that I should.

    I'll be interested to hear about the Caucus Room. It's on my list of get-tos.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bill

      Angelo and Maxie's in Reston was simply terrible. 90% as expensive as Morton's one block away and probably quickly losing what market share they have. Sam and Harry's at Tyson's is in a cavernous room with some of the most disappointing sides that I've found in any $38.00 steak house anywhere. The porterhouse I had there was appropriate to the sides. Downtown I had a much better experience three years ago. I do like the Capital Grille at Tyson's however. The beef isn't quite as good as Morton's actually but overall I like the experience more. Good sides.
      I love the ambience of the Prime Rib. It is the big deal it's suppose to be but, still, the prime rib itself is excellent but the steaks that I've had weren't on the level of some others. We've gone back many times because of just liking to dress up and this is the place to do it. Palm? Remarkably the exact same experience, Bill.
      But D. C. doesn't seem to have a Sparks or a Luger's. I just came back from Orlando and what I think, along with Brooklyn's Luger's, is the best steak house in America. (Yes, I know, Orlando but I'm serious and there is a reason.)(There is also a great steak house in suburban Oklahoma City called, I believe, Boulevard.)
      Lone Star Steakhouse bought the original Del Frisco's out of Dallas a number of years ago. Throughout the '80's and early '90's many people considered this Texas' best steak house. Some said if it was the best in Texas that meant it was the best in the world. Anyway I first went there in '85 and later in '88 or '89 with the last time one week after a visit to Sparks. I thought Del Frisco's was better overall.
      In the early '90's the owner of Del Frisco's lent himself as a consultant to some close friends of his who were retiring to Orlando and wanted to start a steak house. He became so involved that the name of the original went on it, Del Frisco's. Essentially it became a clone of the Dallas original. Several years later he sold the Dallas restaurant to Lone Star and they started outposts of it around the U. S.
      But Lone Star's version of Del Frisco's is different than the Orlando version which is essentially identical to the Dallas original.
      This is a GREAT steak house with some of the best sides that I've had in any steak house anywhere. Superb onion rings, thick sliced heirloom tomatoes with sliced sweet Vidalia onion coated with a viniagrette with lumps of good roquefort cheese, fresh broccoli with several kinds of cheese melted on top, mushrooms sauteed in butter and wine, etc. And beef as good as any in America possibly with the exception of Luger's porterhouse. I wrote a review of Orlando restaurants for a trade publication associated with a 30,000 attendee convention and as a result of it a lot of people came back to me and said that Del Frisco's actually lived up to all my hype.
      But tonight I just came back from Orlando where I had dinner again at Del Frisco's. I was hoping that the Caucus Room might challenge it but I haven't been yet. The idea that Orlando, Florida has one of America's best steak houses seems ludicrous; that it would be far superior to anything in D. C. even more insane.
      But it seems to be true.
      For anyone on this board that goes to Orlando and wants to try it note that it is nowhere near Disney or International Drive. It is directly off of I4 on the OTHER side of downtown and has almost exclusively locals filling it every night. Almost no tourists. It does not feel like Orlando inside. It really feels like Dallas.