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The Capital Grille

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

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  1. 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. 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

        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

          What are some other Darden owned chains?

          1. re: Clams047

            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: Clams047

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

              1. re: Clams047

                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

                  Their seared tuna with 3 dipping sauces is quite good.

              2. re: jcanino

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

                1. 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. 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

                      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

                        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

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

                            1. re: melpy

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

                              1. re: Veggo

                                What does it really matter.

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

                                1. re: ipsedixit

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

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    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

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

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

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

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

                            2. re: josephnl

                              Ruth's Chris uses ... butter.


                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                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: ipsedixit

                                    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

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

                                      1. re: jmckee

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

                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

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

                                          1. re: josephnl

                                            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

                                              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!

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              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

                                              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

                                                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

                                                  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.

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

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

                                            1. 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

                                                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

                                                  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

                                                    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

                                                      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

                                                        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


                                                          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

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

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                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

                                                                  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

                                                                    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

                                                                      "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

                                                                        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

                                                                          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

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

                                                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            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

                                                                              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

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

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