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The Capital Grille

jmckee Nov 1, 2013 08:15 AM

Some friends are considering having their holiday Lunch in December at The Capital Grille here in the Cincinnati area.

I know it's a chain, but I said I'd ask my foodie friends if anybody had tried it and could give us a sense of if it was any good

  1. u
    urfuturewifey Jan 11, 2014 06:15 PM

    If you sign up for their email newsletters they give you free recipes! :)

    1. PhillyBestBYOB Jan 11, 2014 08:10 AM

      I've been to CG's in Boston, NYC and Philly many, many times (in Boston it used to be my boss's afterwork hangout, so I had no choice). It's not Luger's but, it is my favorite of all the high-end steakhouse chains. They produce an extremely consistent product in a nice environment. Decent enough wine list too.

      But my favorite thing is the signature "Stoli Doli" cocktail (Dole pineapple infused Stoli). Very dangerous drink.

      18 Replies
      1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
        josephnl Jan 11, 2014 10:14 AM

        They must be very variable, because the local one in Costa Mesa is mediocre at best. How can they be so terrific is essentially all of their beef is "choice", whereas all of their local competition Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Fleming's, Mastro's, etc. serve exclusively "prime" beef. Does beef grading mean nothing…I think it means a great deal. I'm pretty sure that I can always tell the difference between a prime steak and a choice steak.

        1. re: josephnl
          bagelman01 Jan 11, 2014 10:44 AM

          Beef grading does mean something, but not everything

          Was that pice of beef dry aged, or wet aged? How long was it aged? Was it from the maximum that could be scored choice or the minimum that could be scored prime?

          Were the two pieces of beef graded by the same USDA grader and from the same variety of animal (Angus, Herefiod, etc.)?

          Grading is subjective, and aging methods and time vary.

          While you think you may be able to tell the difference between a prime and choice steak, it may not be always so.

          1. re: bagelman01
            josephnl Jan 11, 2014 11:08 AM

            But surely overall it likely matters that the beef at CG is essentially all choice, whereas the competition is exclusively prime. The 3 steaks I've had at CG, all prepared medium-rare, we're much drier (less integral fat, I think) than steaks at the other chain steakhouses...RC, Morton's, etc.

            1. re: josephnl
              fourunder Jan 11, 2014 11:17 AM

              Not all Prime Beef is graded....the source has to pay for that designation and not all want to do so, therefore, you can have steak as good as Prime Grade...

              1. re: fourunder
                josephnl Jan 11, 2014 11:42 AM

                But at CG, they will tell you the grade of their meat…most of which is choice. Sometimes, a special is prime. So, it appears that all of there meat is graded, and as far as I know, prime is usually better and juicier than choice! I'm only talking about the CG in Costa Mesa, CA…the only one I've been to.

                1. re: josephnl
                  ipsedixit Jan 11, 2014 11:46 AM


                  The grade of beef does not determine how "juicy" a piece of beef is.

                  And "better" as noted above is really a subjective notion. You can take a choice cut of beef, handle it well and properly (aging, cutting and cooking), and it will outshine a similar cut of prime grade beef that's been, for lack of a better word, butchered.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    treb Jan 11, 2014 12:15 PM

                    Perfect explanation ipse.

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      Veggo Jan 11, 2014 12:24 PM

                      And cattle vary. They are not manufactured like Oreo's.

                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        josephnl Jan 11, 2014 01:38 PM

                        Perhaps "juicier" is not the correct choice of word...what I'm saying is the the mouth feel of the 3 choice steaks I've had at CG were (and yes, picking the right words is not easy) drier, less unctuous, less fatty and also less to my taste than the prime steaks I've had elsewhere.

                        Ipse...of course a choice steak that's cooked to perfection will outshine the finest prime Lobel's steak that's been poorly prepared. But surely assuming that both cuts of meat have been handled identically, most of us who enjoy meat will prefer the prime. That's why prime beef commands a higher price. Capital Grill obviously serves choice meat (which some may actually prefer), not because it's better than prime, but because it's cheaper. And of course, some steaks at Capital Grill may be cooked perfectly, and I'm sure that an occasional prime steak coming out of Peter Lugar's is ruined. Bottom line...prime beef is considered by most to be superior to choice.

                        1. re: josephnl
                          fourunder Jan 11, 2014 01:42 PM

                          I have a friend who's company sold to both Luger and Capital Grill in NYC. He opined that the Best Steak in the city was at CG....not just between the two.

                          1. re: fourunder
                            josephnl Jan 11, 2014 01:51 PM

                            With so many people supporting the Capital Grill, I must assume that the local one here in Costa Mesa, CA is an aberration. I've been 3 times, and I know several others who have gone there and found it seriously lacking.

                            But…why does CG buy primarily choice meat, and every other major quality steakhouse serve only prime? Surely prime steak must taste better to most steak eaters, otherwise no one would pay the difference.

                            1. re: josephnl
                              Servorg Jan 11, 2014 01:56 PM

                              "With so many people supporting the Capital Grill, I must assume that the local one here in Costa Mesa, CA is an aberration."

                              Nope. After our visit to the Beverly Center CG location I wouldn't go back again, even if someone else was paying.

                              1. re: josephnl
                                ipsedixit Jan 11, 2014 05:48 PM

                                I dunno if anyone here is defending Capital Grille, certainly not me. I've made my opinion about Capital Grille know above -- it's better than some, but certainly not as good as many others.

                                What I am saying, and what I think many here are saying, is that focusing just on the grade of the beef is neither a sufficient nor necessary condition to judge the quality of a steakhouse.

                                Focusing on the grade of beef that a steakhouse serves as the clou of the quality of a steakhouse is a bit simplistic, if not myopic. As others have mentioned, myself included, what makes a piece of steak good depends in part on how it's prepared, aged (dry or wet), handled, cut and of course cooked.

                                As to your thought that "prime steak must taste better" -- I dunno know if that is necessarily so tautologically true. For example, personally I don't prefer prime ribeye to choice, esp. a center cut ribeye. That cut is so marbled to begin with, a true high-grade prime ribeye (for me) is just a bit too fatty, bordering on unpleasantly unctuous.

                                I feel a bit the same with ribeye cap (or the Spinalis) which is so tender and well-marbled to begin with, a well-selected choice ribeye cap (for me) is better balanced on the tongue than a similar prime grade ribeye cap.

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  Veggo Jan 11, 2014 06:15 PM

                                  You and Delucacheesemonger and I should chow down at Berns in Tampa -talk about similar tastes in beef! You both know exactly how you want it, and they have it and do it right.

                                  1. re: Veggo
                                    ipsedixit Jan 11, 2014 07:03 PM

                                    You bring the vino, and I'll bring the bistecca.

                                  2. re: ipsedixit
                                    josephnl Jan 11, 2014 11:21 PM

                                    You're right ipse, I've focused too much on the grade of the beef at CG. Every time (3-4x now) that I've been to CG, I've. been very disappointed, from the starters, to the steaks, to the sides. Not that the other chains in my area, such as Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Fleming's or Mastro's are so outstanding, I think they are all much better...in many ways. I guess I chose the one objective distinction (the grade of beef served) to make my point...perhaps not wisely. Nevertheless, the fact that Darden's primo steakhouse chooses to served primarily choice beef, may be significant.

                                    1. re: josephnl
                                      fourunder Jan 12, 2014 10:23 AM

                                      I just spoke to my niece, who worked for Houston's, but switched over to the CG....she told me that the policy is they do not discuss the Grade of the meat, only to promote that they Dry-Age in house. She learned this during training.

                                      You are correct that *primarily* they serve choice beef...but the exception is their *Delmonico* Steak, which is indeed the only cut of beef that is *Prime Grade*, but again, they do not advertise or promote it as Prime Beef.

                              2. re: josephnl
                                treb Jan 11, 2014 03:05 PM

                                I believe dry aging vs. wet aging also makes a huge difference in the flavor and texture.

                2. Tripeler Nov 5, 2013 08:58 PM

                  A friend of mine from Cincinnati just calls it Capital Punishment. He probably doesn't like the place.

                  1. t
                    treb Nov 5, 2013 04:33 AM

                    It's passable for USDA Choice that's been dry aged. The spicy calamari app is excellent.

                    1. ipsedixit Nov 4, 2013 09:21 PM

                      In terms of corporate-expense account chain-type steakhouses, they're better than most.

                      It's not like an STK or Bourbon Steak (in style or execution) but better than (for example) Ruth's Chris.

                      31 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        josephnl Nov 5, 2013 01:52 PM

                        I don't know if your Capital Grill is better than ours, but in southern CA where we live, Capital Grill is not even in the same league as Ruth's Chris…not by a long shot. The beef served at Capital Grill is USDA choice (albeit dry aged), whereas every steak served at Ruth's Chris is USDA prime. The steaks served at Ruth's Chris are much more flavorful and juicy than those served at the Capital Grill, and the starters and sides are far better than those at the CG. We've tried our local CG 3 times and will not return.

                        Ruth's Chris is obviously not in a class with Peter Lugars, or even Smith and Wollinsky in NYC, but for a chain, it's pretty dependable. Cannot say the same for Capital Grill which is part of the largest restaurant conglomerate in the US (Darden).

                        1. re: josephnl
                          Servorg Nov 5, 2013 01:54 PM

                          Our fairly recent foray to the Capital Grille makes me say I'm in complete agreement. They can't touch the steaks at Ruth's Chris or Arnie Morton's.

                          1. re: Servorg
                            josephnl Nov 5, 2013 04:09 PM

                            Completely agree!

                            1. re: Servorg
                              melpy Nov 8, 2013 08:19 AM

                              I disagree. I have found CG and Morton's to be much better than RC.

                              1. re: melpy
                                Veggo Nov 8, 2013 08:20 AM

                                In horseracing parlance, I'd call it a triple dead heat.

                                1. re: Veggo
                                  ipsedixit Nov 8, 2013 08:29 AM

                                  What does it really matter.

                                  At the end of the day, it's all just a fucking piece of meat.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    Veggo Nov 8, 2013 08:34 AM

                                    Same price as the other side of town, but it's harder to find a good steak there.

                                    1. re: Veggo
                                      ipsedixit Nov 8, 2013 09:45 AM

                                      You'll have to excuse me today V.

                                      I am in a surly mood today (actually more surly than usual some might say).

                                      My companion stood me up last night. Sheets are always colder with one less individual around.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        Servorg Nov 8, 2013 09:49 AM

                                        "Sheets are always colder with one less individual around."

                                        More room for blini crumbs...http://mustardwithmutton.files.wordpr...

                                        1. re: Servorg
                                          Veggo Nov 8, 2013 09:54 AM

                                          Wow! That looks like Osetra?

                                          1. re: Veggo
                                            Servorg Nov 8, 2013 09:56 AM

                                            You can scroll down and see the tin here http://mustardwithmutton.com/2012/09/...

                                            1. re: Servorg
                                              Veggo Nov 8, 2013 09:59 AM


                                        2. re: ipsedixit
                                          Veggo Nov 8, 2013 09:50 AM

                                          Pal, that's what the other side of town is for!
                                          Even Simon and Garfunkel took some comfort on 7th Avenue.

                              2. re: josephnl
                                ipsedixit Nov 5, 2013 06:04 PM

                                Ruth's Chris uses ... butter.


                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  josephnl Nov 5, 2013 07:31 PM

                                  Is that bad? The bottom line is the taste of the food on the plate...and IMHO it's not just the butter. Prime beef has more marbling than choice, and therefore Ruth's Chris steak is tastier and juicier than that served at CG. Yes, and the butter makes it even better.

                                  1. re: josephnl
                                    ipsedixit Nov 5, 2013 07:46 PM

                                    Yes, it is bad.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                      josephnl Nov 5, 2013 08:41 PM

                                      Not sure that I agree. If butter makes the food taste better and isn't harmful (my blood cholesterol is fine...I don't overdo), I'm all for it. And yes, I sometimes put Bearnaise sauce on a steak...and even (rarely) enjoy eggs Benedict with a nice glass of champagne.

                                      Sure, I agree that the perfectly cooked, heavily marbled prime steak doesn't need butter, but this is the case when steak comes from Lobel's or Peter Lugar's, not from Ruth's Chris, and certainly not from Capital Grill!

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        jmckee Nov 7, 2013 10:14 AM

                                        Ok -- I'll bite. Why is butter bad?

                                        1. re: jmckee
                                          Tripeler Nov 8, 2013 06:10 AM

                                          My guess is that Ipse just doesn't like it.

                                    2. re: ipsedixit
                                      Servorg Nov 6, 2013 04:21 AM

                                      They cheerfully leave the butter off if you ask. They will also dispense with the sizzling serving dish/platter if you ask.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        westsidegal Jan 11, 2014 01:20 AM

                                        butter on steak,
                                        yuck in my book.

                                        why would you contaminate the flavor of that very costly steak with the very pedestrian flavor of butter?
                                        if i'm spending the money on good steak, the last thing i'd want to be tasting is butter.

                                        1. re: westsidegal
                                          Servorg Jan 11, 2014 06:17 AM

                                          Or on lobster. Or in just about any of the sauces at Coni' on the shrimp or the Snook? Damn butter! It's everywhere these days! ;-D>

                                          Seriously this is all taste. A lot of folks love it. Some don't. If you don't want it they will leave it off.

                                          1. re: westsidegal
                                            josephnl Jan 11, 2014 07:55 AM

                                            Pretty much every classical French dish (see Julia Child) is contaminated with the pedestrian taste of butter

                                            1. re: josephnl
                                              ipsedixit Jan 11, 2014 11:04 AM

                                              Pretty much every classical French dish (see Julia Child) is contaminated with the pedestrian taste of butter

                                              I'm not sure that's the right logical extension of what wsg is saying, or what I'm saying about butter and steak.

                                              I'll just put it out there first that I don't enjoy the flavor or taste of butter -- on much of anything, really. But I do and can appreciate the need and use of butter in certain applications -- esp. in baking -- and as you've already mentioned with certain classical French mother sauces or preparations.

                                              For example, I'm not going to downgrade a croissant because it tastes like butter. That would be stupid even by my admittedly very low caveman standards -- akin to saying that the gazpacho tastes too tomato-y.

                                              Butter on steak, for me, is very different. Butter is not part of the quiddity of steak -- at least not the way that it is for a croissant.

                                              It's like gilding the proverbial lily gone totally bad. Two quality ingredients individually do not always make for better eating when taken in combination. It's like good well-marbled, aged steak is good, and butter is good, so lets combine the two! Fail.

                                              By that principle if toro is good, and gelato is good, then so should toro gelato ... but I never ever want to eat toro gelato.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                josephnl Jan 11, 2014 11:16 AM

                                                It's obviously a matter of taste. Classic bistros in Paris very often put a pat of a compound butter on a steak frites. I agree that a nicely aged t-bone or ribeye need nothing, although to me a beautiful filet with sauce bearnaise is mighty tasty (and quite French!

                                            2. re: westsidegal
                                              ipsedixit Jan 11, 2014 10:56 AM


                                              1. re: westsidegal
                                                fourunder Jan 11, 2014 10:57 AM

                                                Personal tastes aside, while I'm very much like you in the taste of natural beef flavor that requires nothing more than some nice salt and black pepper....butter has it's place in sauces, compound butters or straight....especially if the steak in question is Filet/Tenderloin.

                                              2. re: ipsedixit
                                                Kate is always hungry Jan 12, 2014 11:28 AM

                                                The 1st of only 2 times I've ever eaten at Ruth Chris (the Beverly Hills location) my steak was delivered swimming in butter. I couldn't taste the beef for the butter. Many years later, I specifically asked to omit the butter.

                                                The bread the 1st time was not fresh and was actually freezer-burned. When I told the waiter he said that the restaurant chain used so much bread it had to be frozen!

                                                1. re: Kate is always hungry
                                                  josephnl Jan 12, 2014 11:40 AM

                                                  Our local RC Steakhouse is really pretty good, obviously not in the same league as Peter Lugar's, Carnevino, Craftsteak, etc. We've always had decent rolls at our RC, and the butter...it's a matter of taste and can be left off. The steaks and sides are usually quite good.

                                                  1. re: josephnl
                                                    Kate is always hungry Jan 12, 2014 12:35 PM

                                                    The 1st time I went to RC in 1993 I had no idea they put butter on the steak and didn't see it mentioned on the menu. The next time I went to the Woodland Hills location, I made sure to ask to hold the butter. The steak was much better without the butter. IMHO. The bread that time was fresh, not defrosted.

                                                    1. re: Kate is always hungry
                                                      Servorg Jan 12, 2014 12:39 PM

                                                      I say "Bring on the butter. Butter is better for you!" http://www.bulletproofexec.com/butter...

                                          2. m
                                            MonMauler Nov 2, 2013 10:55 AM

                                            In Pittsburgh, where I live, they are one of the better steakhouses, and are, sadly, probably in the top 5.

                                            They serve better steak than one can usually make at home. But you pay for far more than you get. If you drink, it will easily cost you $100 pp or more. That said, I have enjoyed my fair share of oyster-scotch lunches, which have always been more than satisfying. Cap Grille's I've been to have uniformly presented good food and competent service for an exorbitant price. The ambience at most is wood-paneled, the lighting dim, and to my liking.

                                            I do not go to cap grille often, as it is generally possible to find better food at a more reasonable price elsewhere, but I don't turn down invitations to cap grille and will occasionally patronize them alone at lunch.

                                            1. Samalicious Nov 2, 2013 06:01 AM

                                              The one in KC is good. It is spendy though, usually about $150 for dinner for 2 w/o wine.

                                              1. j
                                                jcanino Nov 1, 2013 12:11 PM

                                                We ate at the new one in Hartford CT and were very impressed with the food as well as the service but like previously mentioned, it was super expensive.

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: jcanino
                                                  Clams047 Nov 2, 2013 04:14 AM

                                                  Interesting thread. I never considered going there since it is a Darden-owned chain, figuring it would be like the other Darden chains which are by far, the lowest quality of all the chains.

                                                  Evidently Bugaboo Creek is also part of this chain - went twice & both times found it to be up to the typical Dardin quality (quite poor).

                                                  1. re: Clams047
                                                    wincountrygirl Nov 2, 2013 04:17 AM

                                                    What are some other Darden owned chains?

                                                    1. re: wincountrygirl
                                                      Servorg Nov 2, 2013 05:09 AM


                                                    2. re: Clams047
                                                      bagelman01 Nov 2, 2013 04:35 PM

                                                      sorry clams...................
                                                      Bugaboo Creek is NOT owned by Darden. It is part of the bankrupt CB Holdings, as in Charlie Brown's Steakhouses.

                                                      Darden has a lot of really pisspoor restaurants, but don't blame Bugaboo Creek on them

                                                      1. re: bagelman01
                                                        BiscuitBoy Nov 6, 2013 08:24 AM

                                                        ahhh, moosejuice

                                                      2. re: Clams047
                                                        ALITIN Nov 7, 2013 08:43 AM

                                                        Capital Grille was acquired by darden along with Bahama Breeze in 2007

                                                        1. re: Clams047
                                                          melpy Nov 8, 2013 08:17 AM

                                                          Nothing like any of the other Darden restaurants. This is white tablecloth, special ocassion, power dinner type of place. Similar to Morton's or Ruth Chris. I probably enjoy this one the most out of the three. I have only been to the Baltimore location of any of them.

                                                          I have only been for dinner in groups of 3-8. I tend to stick with beef entrees but they do their fish well too.

                                                          1. re: melpy
                                                            MisterBill2 Nov 10, 2013 06:30 PM

                                                            Their seared tuna with 3 dipping sauces is quite good.

                                                        2. re: jcanino
                                                          bagelman01 Nov 2, 2013 04:37 PM

                                                          been to Stamford with clients, not any better than Morton's or Ruth Chris's, but on that level
                                                          I'd rather drive 40 more minutes to Peter Luger in Brooklyn

                                                        3. b
                                                          Big Bad Voodoo Lou Nov 1, 2013 08:30 AM

                                                          It's super-expensive. I've never had a steak there, but the fried calamari appetizer was good, and the coconut cream pie is one of the best desserts I've ever had.

                                                          Super-expensive, though, even by "nice steakhouse" standards.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
                                                            MisterBill2 Nov 4, 2013 05:37 PM

                                                            Yes, the Coconut Cream Pie is amazing!

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