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McCormick & Schmick's - opinions, please

We're getting a McCormick and Schmick's, and that's one restaurant with which I have NO experience at all. I've never been, nor do I know anyone who has. What's the general consensus on the place? Yes, I know it's a chain, which automatically makes it evil to some people, but some honest opinions would be great. I've already heard coworkers talking about it, so I know I'll end up there for lunch, probably sooner rather than later.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. We eat at the one here in Phoenix. I've also been to one in Seattle several times when living htere - typically for happy hour as they have a great happy hour.

    it's consistent and the fish is always good quality. Stick with simple preparations and they do this quite well. In a city where there were lot so of great seafood options I'd choose somwhere else(again in Seattle we went for happy hour...for dinner there were tons of great seafood options) but here in Phoenix we are limited and it is one of the best options locally for quality fish and seafood.

    1. I went there for dinner once (there's a post on it on another thread) and it was awful. And I have nothing against chains at all. It simply was terrible.

      1. I have gone there for alunch a couple of times and gotten their shrimp pasta alfredo. Not bad, but if a place cant do an alfredo sauce they probably shouldnt be in business. I would never waste a dinner on McCormick, and Schmicks.

        1. We have 2 here in Austin, I have eaten at both of them numerous times, and we have enjoyed our meals each and every time. Is it as good as the seafood I was used to in NY and Florida in great local joints .. NO. Is it consistently decent fresh seafood at reasonable prices and nicely presented with good service ... YES.
          And I agree that their happy hour is terrific !

          1. My first advice on chains is that it all depends on the chef and their staff whether the recipes fly. Sometimes passion does not translate, sometimes it soars. However, the restaurants are branded as fine dining/seafood.

            It is my experience (in Irvine, CA) that McCormick and Schmick's brews their own beer and that is one of the pulls for dicerning diners. They also offer small plates for happy hour as low as $1.95 and they want to be famous for their Happy Hours.

            I have watched the chef at Irvine M&S give a cooking demonstration at department store (Bloomingdale's) and he missed his own recipe. But, the written recipe was great and pretty and inventive. Could have been just that day or circumstance being out of his own kitchen.

            I have eaten in the dining room at McCormick and Schmick's a few times and it was all just so regular. And, that was okay for me at that time. And, it was dark inside. If you like that ambience - like an old wooden yacht at dusk, then you'll like it as much as I did.

            The menu may change a little as far as seasonal foods are - so I would think that would make a difference also in your liking it.

            I would go and try it, take a look at their menu and see if anything appeals to your craving that day and enjoy. They aren't bad. Just don't expect a mechanical server. They work better when you invite them to take interest in your menu choices or vice versa.

            See, http://www.mccormickandschmicks.com/m...

            I know that sounds kind of dry just giving the facts without the rah rahs, so . . . .

            Sure, visit, enjoy ! And, report back on your location for us. Thanks.

            My opinion of the Irvine location is that, for their price, there are better places to be had on the coast in Newport Beach. But, not everybody has the same.

            1. I happen to like McCormick and Schmicks. When I go, I almost always order the salmon stuffed with crab and brie. It's been a while, but that's what I remember getting and liking. I once made the mistake of ordering a steak here, and it wasn't very good. It wasn't horrible, but I'd never do it again no matter how much I'm craving red meat.

              The Pasadena, CA, location at one point had a Monday special on king crab legs for 19.99. A pound with two sides, if I recall correctly. Also, for happy hour, you can get a decent restaurant burger and fries for 1.95. They have an early evening and late-night happy hour.

              There are definitely better upscale seafood options where I live now, but if you don't have much else, this is a great restaurant. Way better than Red Lobster, but comparable prices. I don't really understand how Red Lobster can charge what they do, but that's a completely different subject.

              1. I've been to a Boston location a couple of times. The bar area has an early evening special, where select items are VERY inexpensive. And very decent. Never ate in the full restaurant area off the dinner menu--it looks like a wide variety. And they cite the source of each seafood item, which I like.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                  The Happy Hour menu can be a bargain. In Boston, I frequented the location in Park Plaza regularly for the Tuesday $1 oyster specials which provided an opportunity to try about 6 different types of oysters (sometimes local Duxbury or Wellfleet) on the cheap. Some people say, eww discount oysters, but it was really just a gimmick and mostly the same variety they offer daily but at less than 1/2 the usual price of the oysters.

                  Since moving to Birmingham, AL, I haven't tried our local M&S. However, I just remembered calling them a few months back and they said they offer a similar deal. Now I just need to call back to remember the day.

                  Knocking back a few pints while binging on some fresh oysters always makes my day a better one.

                2. Where do you live, and do you have other seafood options? MCS is totally nothing special, maybe worth going once if you really like to try new places.

                  1. If you live near an ocean don't bother to go, too many good local seafood places. However, if you live inland, you'll get good seafood choices at higher prices. I also agree, try happy hour for a deal and taste before you commit to dinner.

                    1. There are several in the Washington DC area and I've eaten at most of them more than once. Overall, I really like them, especially one of their signature dishes; parmesan crusted sole with lemon caper butter. Pretty traditional, but quite well done.

                      On the downside, the new one at National Harbour served me a pretty chewy piece of tilapia yesterday. My first significant M&S disappointment. Of course, they have only been open a little over a week I think.

                      1. I've had dinner at the Seattle location twice and enjoyed it both times. I don't have anything negative to say about it.

                        1. I have eaten there over a decade. It was always business related. It has never offended, but it has never amazed. It is a safe place to take a client and at least in SF, the view is nice and the room is pretty.

                          That being said, I would never spend my own money there. There are so many better restaurants in the same price point in SF.

                          The happy hour has had a lot of positive points and I have it on my to-try list.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rworange

                            I've had several business lunches at the Spenger's in Berkeley, which is owned by McCormick & Schmicks. Have no idea whether the menu is the same as the MS banner, but they have two dishes which I love - Shrimp & Dungeness Crab Cakes and Seafood Cobb Salad (bay scallops, shrimp & dungeness crab with bacon, blue cheese, hard boiled eggs - hard to screw that up if the seafood is fresh). Again, I would waste a dinner there and would rarely spend my own money there, but it's a pretty good lunch.

                            1. re: David Carlson

                              Thanks for the tip. There's not a lot of Spenger's reports. The menu seems to be getting similar to McCormick & Schmick's

                              Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto
                              1919 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

                          2. I think it depends on the location..I was at the Phoenix/Biltmore for the 4th of July weekend and it was awful..flavorless from the chowder to the fish tacos..they do make a good cocktail.
                            San Diego at the Omni Hotel is pretty darn good and the happy hour is one of the best bargains in the Gaslamp..

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Beach Chick

                              I agree with Beach Chick. It really depends on the location.
                              I do remember having some really lovely Halibut Cheeks (Seattle) but the rest of the entrees I remember as being good but not chow-worthy. I've also had a pretty lame meal once in Portland.
                              In general, if it's the best you have seafood option-wise, go. If it's not, you're really not missing anything.

                            2. We've dined at their Beautiful Downtown San Jose branch and are split on the Good vs. Evil Thang. I truly enjoyed the salmon; moist, seasoned nicely, flavorful. SWMBO hated the halibut; very "fishy" and over-seasoned. Service was professional. Cost was exactly what you'd expect. Soft upselling. I'd go back. She won't.

                              1. I have nothing against chain restraunts in fact I am a fan of Legal Seafood and others. My husband and I recently went to M&S in Raleigh and had a poor experience. He ordered grilled salmon and upon the first fork test discovered the salmon was severely undercooked (as rare as ahi tuna is often served). Without even looking at the dish the server informed us that all fish is cooked medium to order and that he should have requested his to be cooked well done. After a lifetime in New England with vast seafood knowledge we were prepared for a fresh "cooked" piece of fish. Warning to you if you order a fish like flounder or trout that you must state it should be cooked well done? With scarce seafood restaurants in our area we were sorely disappointed with our visit.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: macalliecat

                                  We have two locations in Austin, and the one downtown is far superior to the one up in the Domain. So, your mileage will vary.