Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Morton's: A Steakhouse

For Jonathan’s 27th birthday, his aunt and uncle sponsored a trip to Morton’s, which is a steakhouse chain (you may remember that he sent us to The Capital Grille for Jonathan's last birthday). We have one in San Jose, so it only took us fifteen minutes or so to get there. Because of the winter carnival going on, parking was problematic; luckily they have valet at a reasonable rate (especially compared to parking prices in San Jose).
We were seated almost immediately, and handed personalized “birthday menus,” since we had mentioned it was Jonathan’s birthday when we made the reservation. The menu covered a lot of different options, including six types of potatoes as side dishes! I was glad that we had the menu to peruse, as typically you order without a printed menu at all! 

Our server gave us a full presentation of the options, and we watched various other tables receive presentations of their own at various points throughout the evening. The server ("seasoned" would be a good word to describe her, as she clearly knew everything and seemed a little bored in her work) wheeled a cart over to our table, demonstrated the different cuts of meat, crab legs, vegetables, and appetizers. Jonathan chose the Porterhouse steak, after a tough decision between that and the Ribeye. I chose the broiled salmon fillet with beurre blanc sauce. For side dishes (served family-style), the potatoes lyonnaise and the grilled asparagus sounded great. 

While we decided on our orders, we munched on fresh onion bread. The large, round loaf that was brought out was very good. It was a little strange that there was no bread knife, but we had steak knives on the table when we sat down, so it was easy enough to slice ourselves.
We didn’t wait long before Jonathan’s baked five-onion soup arrived. It was crusted with Swiss cheese, and since it was heavy with garlic, we think that perhaps there is a type of onion that greatly resembles garlic. I had a small taste, and agreed with his assessment that it was delicious.
The table was re-set before the server brought the entrees, which was quite a nice surprise. The tablecloth was cleared of crumbs and new utensils were placed. We also received our drinks – Jonathan chose a “rare red" to go with his steak: a four-leaf cabernet sauvignon. I selected the holiday special, Sleigh Ride, which was a white wine (prosecco) with tuaca (a vanilla-citrus liquer), cranberry juice, and cherry liquer. Both were excellent choices. 

The Porterhouse was unique in that it was part New York Strip and part Filet. I thought it looked pretty neat, and Jonathan was very pleased with the aged flavor of both meats. I asked him to compare it to the steak that he had last year at The Capital Grille (where he first experienced aged steak), and he found it tender but not as flavored.
My salmon was very plentiful, and grilled just right. The sauce was a little thinner than I expected, but quite flavorful and an excellent accompaniment to the fish. I was not able to finish it all, and took a third or so home to enjoy for lunch the next day.
Since there were so many selections for side dishes, I was pretty excited when they arrived. The potatoes lyonnaise contained potatoes cut into pieces about the size of quartered lemons, fried with onions and bacon. It was absolutely exquisite, though the leftovers did not fare as well as the salmon. The grilled asparagus had a balsamic glaze that really brought out the flavor rather than mask it, as some sauces tend to do with that vegetable.
There were many birthdays in the restaurant that night – I think we heard the waiters sing their version of the “Happy Birthday” song five or six times, so we were totally expecting it, which was good… it’s always a bit awkward when you are caught completely by surprise! The restaurant also had a photographer who came around early in the evening to take a photo of us, and she delivered it later in a small Morton’s folder, signed by many of the employees. The complimentary birthday dessert was hot chocolate lava cake, with Godiva chocolate in the center. It was delicious with the ice cream on the side, but it would have been overly rich on its own. 

Overall, Morton’s was a great dining experience. From the cart and the spiel of options to the final presentation of food to the table, it was pretty unique and fun.

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