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Nov 14, 2012 07:05 PM

Booo for Mooo

An out-of-town friend of mine wanted a slab of steak so since Mooo has a long list of sides and I'm a vegetarian, I picked it over some of the other steakhouses. She liked her filet, but I'm writing this more as a public service announcement for any other vegetarians who have to go to a steakhouse: avoid Mooo.

The onion rings were not bad, pretty similar to the ones I've had at the Chat in Wayland, which are frozen. The creamed spinach was a joke. It tasted and looked like frozen spinach (with a kind of greyish hue). Someone had put a couple of tablespoons of cream on top, and that was that. So it was frozen spinach in a white, watery broth--in no way an integrated dish.

The most disappointing were the exotic mushrooms--very pale, with lots of tough stems, also in a watery, tasteless broth. I never thought I'd meet a mushroom I didn't like, especially at $18. A small part of the mac and cheese, the part in the center with the bread crumbs, was pretty good, but the rest was runny and not very cheesy tasting. My cocktail was also watery.

The server varied from overly-involved to perfunctory. He went on and on, trying to upsell a wine by telling us how delightful the people who make (or distribute?) it are, but when he'd check in to ask how things were, he'd nod and turn on his heel before we could even look up. There was also a bit of a language barrier.

I do have to say that the soft, warm rolls they serve before the meal were the best rolls I've ever had.

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  1. Gosh, I had a similar experience recently. I went to a Chinese restuarant with my friend from Hong Kong. I ordered spaghetti and meatballs. It was awful. Service was good and rolls were terrific.

    18 Replies
      1. re: m. mccullough

        Okay, I have to stop laughing long enough to say that the OP did start with the caveat that this is a PSA for vegetarians only. I've been in this situation before, and have since pledged to consume only liquid lunches and dinners when accompanying friends to steakhouses from now on.

          1. re: m. mccullough

            Cute, but:

            a) everybody orders vegetable and starch side dishes at a luxury steakhouse -- it's nothing like getting spaghetti and meatballs at a Chinese restaurant; and

            b) Mooo.... charges $12 each for those sides of creamed spinach, onion rings, and mac & cheese, and $18 for that exotic mushroom side.

            Vegetarian or not, the OP has a right to expect better.


            1. re: MC Slim JB

              As another vegetarian who sometimes unavoidably finds herself at a steakhouse, I agree wholeheartedly with MC. I've often had wonderful meals comprised of heavenly steakhouse side dishes. If it is an upscale dining establishment, all of the dishes should be high quality. No excuse for the lame dishes the OP describes. The comment about bad spaghetti&meatballs at a Chinese restaurant is out of line here and misses the point entirely.

              1. re: Science Chick

                It was just a little satire/teasing, neither of which are out of line.

                1. re: hckybg

                  Seriously, I was joking. Thanks for getting it.

                2. re: Science Chick

                  Lighten up Francis.

                  A better question is what steakhouses do have the best sides in people's opinions? I am having a hard thinking of any standouts.

                  1. re: Science Chick

                    Thanks for seeing my point, Slim and Science Chick. And as Gabatta wondered, I'd love to know if anyone has had good sides at a Boston steakhouse--for when I need my next aloo dum fix at a steakhouse. I know the creamed spinach at Coach Grill in Wayland is great, as is their bread pudding, and I remember having some decent sides at Morton's but that was years ago. Maybe Grill 23?

                    1. re: pollystyrene

                      Hilarious :)

                      I think Abe & Louie's bi bim bop is the bomb!

                      1. re: Prav

                        from my point of view, i have never had a really good meal at any steak house; period. I like steak and feel that i do better at home, and I cannot remember ever thinking that the sides were great. That said, i guess Morton's or Capitol Grille would be my choices. What about KO Prime; I have not been dragged there.

                        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                          I can't imagine they're using anything but fresh spinach. Maybe just overcooking.

                          1. re: Jolyon Helterman

                            I thought of KO Prime since my DC had loved her tacos at KO's La Verdad the night before, and she's from LA, no less. Then I remembered they'd closed.

                            I can't imagine them not using fresh spinach either. Maybe they have a knack for making fresh food seem frozen. I could only tell the o-rings were house-made by their variety of sizes.

                            Thanks for the tip, Prav! Who knew?

                            1. re: pollystyrene

                              Didn't KO (not) Prime close months ago?

                                1. re: Gordough

                                  She said that in her post.

                                  Thanks for the heads-up on the cooking at Mooo...
                                  Lots of meat-eaters get those sides tooo...

                        2. re: pollystyrene

                          I like steak and still didn't like moooooo (or however many "o"s there are). It might very well have been the side dishes, even the meat containing ones that disappointed me. Grill 23 is good but I think there mushrooms are beef flavored so your options are limited. Morton's has a ton of sides so that's what I would suggest.

                  2. next time you find yourself in that situation, you might want to consider options other than steakhouses. There are plenty of Italian or French restaurants, for example, that have "slabs of steak" on the menu, and probably more interesting choices for you as a vegetarian.

                    1. As a vegetarian/pescatarian I very much enjoyed going to Smith & Wollensky. My friends were happy with their steaks and I enjoyed my salad, sides, and shellfish.

                      1. If you find yourself having to pick another steakhouse try the Capital Grill. I love their sides. The lobster mac (you can order w/out lobster if you do not eat this), roasted mushrooms, creamed spinach are all excellent.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: BellaBoston

                          Second the Capital Grille's sides. The creamed corn with smoked bacon is outstanding, and the new Boylston Street digs are a huge improvement over the old Newbury Street location.


                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Creamed corn with smoked bacon won't appeal to a vegetarian, though. Side dishes that are flavored with meat are a common problem.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              I think the new space is formulaic steakhouse with staged moose head decor to match. Absolutely awful. It's like walking into a generic steakhouse in any random city (e.g. Minneapolis).

                              The old location at least had a bit of cozy character. Of course that might have had seething to do with my being able to walk out the back door of my building and right across into their back door. That bar was so small though that they often handed out red hot glasses straight from the washer.

                              As for the food I don't think the sides do much to differentiate themselves from other steakhouses. They do have a few excellent apps (calamari with hot peppers; beef tartar). Though those wont help vegetarians much.

                              1. re: Gabatta

                                I always hated the Newbury St location's dining room: low-ceilinged, cramped-feeling to me. I did always find the bar crowd entertaining, and that's still true in the new location.

                                I didn't remember them as having any dry-aged steaks, but they do a strip and a ribeye, both respectable.


                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  The kona crusted sirloin is dry aged and one of the only steaks worth getting there. However, I always have them hold the completely unnecessary shallot butter.

                                  Their lobster finished on the grill is always done to perfection. They over charge steakhouse price for it as expected, but it is a darn good lobster served semi pulled but still in the shell. The finish on the grill brings out a hint of sweetness.

                                  I rarely go to Cap Grill anymore (really never if it is up to me), but there are some decent options when a business dinner takes you there.

                                  1. re: Gabatta

                                    Gotta agree with ya on the kona sirloin Gabatta. Now if they would only do a lump crab cocktail like Abe & Louie's, whick is probably my favorite steakhouse side, THAT would make a great meal.

                                    1. re: southie_chick

                                      I hate to hijack OP's vegetarian post with all this meat talk but i had to jump in here...Captial Grill does have lump crab meat!! and it's amazing. It is a "special", however they have had it every time I have been there recently. I agree with you that it was missing there. Glad to see they are offering it!

                          2. I know I'll find myself in this situation again, so all your input has been really helpful. (Thanks for the heads-up about the sneaky meat mushrooms at Grill 23.) It sounds like Capital Grill and Morton's win the sides race. And if I'm going to support a place that profits primarily from meat, I should be forced to stare at a moose head for penance!