I've been to a lot of bad restaurants lately, so it was time to dip into my Capital Grille gift card, which is one of the few useful things I can get with my AMEX rewards. The bar was too crowded for comfort, and there's nothing on TV, so I opt'd for a table.
The nasty babe is gone and they know have some dudes from Wilton Manors. They asked for my last name: Mr Jones I told them.
I got the exact same table I've gotten for all 3 visits to the dining room, which seems odd.
Capital Grille Dining Room
A woman walking by said she'd be right with me, and then a dude started pouring some water. The servers wear old-style jackets; he asked what I wanted to drink. I already knew what I was ordering, but I wanted to check out the menu and get a photo, since they don't publish their menus.
The big thing that struck me about their menu is that they're now charging $10 for a CUP of their lousy clam chowder, which is just a joke. Much of the older generation made their money by holding RE so they're not that smart, but nobody is that stupid.
You can get a cup of the soup with their $18 Lunch "Plate", but there was nothing I wanted. I'd had the lobster roll before (see below). Sirloin Hash sounds like leftovers and Sea Scallops never catch my interest. I'd previously decided on the Cobb Salad, which comes with Sliced Filet Mignon. I ordered that with Blue Cheese Dressing on the side as I didn't want to risk that I didn't like the mustard dressing.
"Would you like bread", he asked. It comes with the $20 salad, so hell yeah, why not?
Capital Grille Bread
The matzo baffles me; do people really eat that when it's not a holiday requirement? The other rolls are very dense and too chewy for my taste; I don't want a sore jaw after lunch.
Old time and Crooner music is the genre here; James Torme, Denise Jannah and Bobby Montez. I put my straw wrapper and sugar packet debris at the edge of the table so a server could scoop it up.
The salad came in 15 minutes.
Capital Grille Cobb Salad
The first thing I noticed was that the Bleu Cheese was very blue; a very mature cheese. I was afraid it would be too intense, but it wasn't bad. I wondered at what point they discard the cheese?
To me this isn't medium rare; this is rare meat. If they served me a steak this raw I'd send it back. But with a salad I'm cutting it up and eating it with dressing so it didn't matter too much. It was a real tenderloin; unlike the garbage that they serve with salads at the Lobster Bar Sea Grille.
Capital Grille Cobb Salad
They give you a whole egg and a whole haas avocado; it's a big salad. Another big salad on a flat plate. I'm not sure who's in charge of the restaurant industry, but it's getting really stupid.
The iced tea service was surprising at a "high end" restaurant; he took my glass and returned it with the old, used lemons and not enough ice. I shouldn't have to dip my hand into my water to get ice when I'm having a $30 lunch.
Capital Grille Ice Tea
Something that surprised me was that with multiple trips, the debris wasn't removed from my table. A manager even stopped by and asked how everything was and didn't notice it. Training comes from the top. You don't get much for your $10 cup of soup these days. The 50 cent salt and pepper shakers crack me up also.
Capital Grill Aftermath
I had to wait for my check. Things go fast with the gift card. $32 with tip. for salad at the Capital Grille.
They try to offer high end service here, but it doesn't match what you get an J Alex or Houston's. Prices continue to rise, but you can always count on getting a decent meal. Good on a rainy day; you can get in and out through the mall garage without having to brave the elements.
Capital Grille is one of the few AMEX "rewards" that give me dollar for dollar value, so I always have a gift card in my wallet. Every 6 months or so I wander in and try something new.
A good thing about their Mall location is the free indoor parking. Unlike PF Changs and Season's 52, they also have an entrance in the Mall, so you don't need to go outside to get here.
Capital Grille Galleria Mall Entrance
There were only 2 other people at the bar today, so I decided to sit there. The regular bartender was working, so professional service was assured. Tea came out right away.
Capital Grille Iced Tea
In the summer they do their combo lunches; it's not really much but you get a cup of soup or a small salad with a couple choices of entrees for $18. No tremendous bargain but it's what you'll pay for a burger here. One of the choices was a "dry-aged sirloin frites with Chimichurri"; I order that medium rare with a cup of new england clam chowder.
Bread comes with your entree.
Capital Grill Bread Basket
Not their best effort. The dark bread had raisins and nuts and the unleavened bread wasn't anything I wanted either. At least they give you plenty of butter.
The soup comes out in a little cup.
Capital Grille Clam Chowder
They charge $10 for a cup of soup; I hope that they give you more than this. The soup was surprisingly lousy. Very bland with not too many clams. I expected better at the Capital Grille.
Music here is benign; Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Hartman followed by "Zoot Suit Riot" and Sarah Vaughn.
After the pedestrian soup I was worried that I was going to get a tiny steak; when they put it in front of me, it wasn't what I expected.
Capital Grille Sirloin Frites with Chimichurri
Under the fries was a pretty good sized steak. It was pre-sliced and they got the medium rare just perfect.
Capital Grille Sirloin Steak
The Chimichurri wasn't very good; more like a cream sauce than the oil-based stuff I expected, but the steak and the fries were very good. I usually think that everything is overpriced here, but this was a decent value. >
I had to ask for ketchup, salt and pepper and a sharp knife; the dude is slipping a bit. But overall a nice lunch and a good experience.
I got the idea of trying Capital Grille's Wagyu Beef Carpaccio today, so I pulled up a menu only to find that they've taken it off the menu and replaced it with a Steak Tartare dish; something that I don't care for. They've changed a few other things on the menu also, and noticed that they've added a filet of sole dish.jump--> On a rainy day, why not head to the Mall?
The bar was pretty crowded, and I don't care for the type of people who are at the Capital Grille bar, so I asked for a table. They had a booth available.
Capital Grille Fort Lauderdale Interior
Notice that everyone has a bottle of Pellegrino? Do you know why everyone has a bottle of Pellegrino? Because snooty rich people don't drink water; they pay $8 for some bubbles. Sometimes I do it if I'm having it instead of wine, but not today.
Bread is dropped off immediately. You have a team of servers here; people are swarming around with pitchers.
Capital Grille Bread
One thing that's changed is that they've gone from a triangle of butter to a square. The butter comes in handy not only for the bread but for vegetables as well. Even the butter is garnished at the Capital Grille.>
I ordered my usual iced tea and a server read me the specials; nothing that sounded all that great. Someone dropped off the tea and ran off before I could tell them that I asked for extra lemon.
Capital Grille Iced Tea
With all of the servers around, it was hard to get anyone's attention in particular.
They play Sinatra style music in the dining room, although it's so loud with chatter that you can barely hear it. Forgetabout using Shazam. A runner dropped off the fish.
Capital Grille Parmesan Crusted Sole
A larger piece than I expected. It comes with "marble" potatoes and crab in a tarragon sauce. It also comes with a side; I'd opted for the green beens.
Capital Grille Green Beans
I prefer when beans have the ends cut off; the butter improved the beans dramatically. They gave me one grilled lemon, which reminded me that I needed lemon for my tea. So I flagged down the next server that swung by and got some fancy squeezing lemons.
Capital Grille Lemons
At least it keeps the pits out. I used one for the fish, which needed seasoning. A couple of things about the sole. Usually, parmesan crusted fish is coated with a mixture of parmesan and bread crumbs; this was VERY cheesy tasting, and may just have been coated with parmesan. Frankly, the cheese overpowered the fish. This version was nowhere near as good as what I got at Romano's Macaroni Grill, which came with a nice lemon butter sauce. This needed some sort of sauce. The tarragon sauce on the crab wasn't bad, but it was an awkward side. I would have preferred a mound of sauteed spinach.
Capital Grille is hit or miss, and this was a miss. A nice dining experience generally, but it's a $34 lunch with tip.>
Since I'm not going to the Burger Battle tonight, I decided to get myself a burger for lunch. Something better than I would get if I went to the battle, for a lot less money. So naturally, I headed over to the Capital Grille.
The last menu I had from them had the burger priced at $16, which is kind of ridiculous for a lunch burger. But I was splurging today. You can't get a burger once they start serving their dinner menu at 4, which is also ridiculous.
I sat at the bar, and the dude who usually works lunch wasn't there; there was a woman I'd never seen before she didn't seem too interested in getting me a menu as she served 4 people before asking me what I wanted. When I got the menu, I saw that the burger is now $18, which is utterly preposterous. But there is free parking at the mall, so I ordered it anyway. You can get parmesan fries or something new; cheddar tater tots. I didn't want either, but I figured I'd try the tater tots.
The bar here at late lunch was all dudes. I'm not sure why this place always draws such an arrogant crowd. It's hard to describe, but they were the kind of guys who I usually try to avoid. I guess guys who have a $20 lunch. One thing that i don't like about this place is that you pay the same price at the bar, but you don't get bread or the water service. A runner brought out the burger.
Capital Grille Cheeseburger
WAY too many onions, but nice ripe tomatoes, good pickles and 3 sauces; ketchup, mustard and a spicy mayo. I offloaded about 2/3 of the onions, assembled it and sliced it in half to see if they got the temperature right.
Capital Grille Cheeseburger Medium Rare
Well if you like your burger medium rare; this is it. I took a bite; the burger has bacon ground into it; and this was a very tasty, juicy burger. I proceeded to try it with various combinations of pickles, mustard and mayo, all with ketchup. It was an enjoyable adventure. Worth $18? Of course not. But I had an Amex rewards Gift Card so it didn't seem so bad.>
The tater tots were interesting; not like the tots you get in your supermarket Big and round, they look more like poppers than tots. Tots are deep fried hash browns, and they've added some cheese to these.
Capital Grille Tater Tots
I tasted one, and frankly it didn't taste like much. Sort of a contrived specialty item that doesn't really belong on a good restaurant's menu. Cutting one in half, there wasn't much going on inside.
Capital Grille Tater Tots
I'm guessing that they won't be on the menu for very long.
$22. for a burger and an iced tea ($3.50). Typical overpriced but good lunch at the Capital Grille. As I was finishing up, some guy came in with the Las Olas neighborhood whore. Perfect.
Capital Grille is the "high-end" member of the Darden Family, who also own Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster and Season's 52. They're usually located in a Mall, and the 2 in this area fit that bill exactly. This location is particularly dated; the place is densely decorated with the kind of paintings I remember from my grandparent's house; and the music is more suited to an older genre; tunes like Charade and Fibre De Verre. I'd never go to dinner at a Capital Grille, prices are way too high for what this place is, but there is a shortage of nice restaurants open at lunch time, and their lunch prices are more reasonable. They do shrink the portions, so it's not as good a deal as it may seem.
They have one of the nicer bar areas around; it's loaded with cougars and older men in the evenings, but at lunch before 3pm its a nice place to grab a bite and watch some TV.
Capital Grill Fort Lauderdale Bar
After 3pm, the "union guys" start rolling in, and the upscale feel becomes decidedly more middle class.
They have some venerable appetizers, a particular favorite is the Calamari.>
Capital Grille Calamari
They're served with lemon; I would have liked some marinara, but they're good without it. Spicy with loads of jalapeno, red cherry peppers and pepperoncini, it's mostly rings with a couple of tenacles thrown in. Today I was having a salad; their wedge salad is a dense chunk of iceberg and a few slices of tomatoes with bacon and blue cheese dressing.
Capital Grille Wedge Salad
While the salad was good, the tomatoes weren't particularly ripe and the dressing didn't have many chunks of blue cheese. This dish exposes the "chain" in this place; for a supposed "high-end" restaurant this could easily have been better. For less than half the price you get more blue cheese and more bacon at Big Bear.
Previously, I'd been in the dining room for lunch:
Capital Grille Fort Lauderdale Interior
Two years ago I said I'd never come back to this location after a confrontation with management, but I landed a gift card so I figured I'd try their new "Spring Menu". They don't have the menu up yet so we don't have it here, but they've basically replaced the roasted red pepper soup with asparagus soup and the wagyu burger with a piquant shrimp and peppers dish. Hardly call for a press release, but I guess it's something.
The service here attempts to be high end; they call you sir or ma'am and they always say "of course" when you ask for something. One nice thing about the better restaurants is that you get bread and butter; there's never a moment when you're sitting at a bare, empty table. The rolls were dense and tasty; they always have flat, unleavened bread that seems to serve no purpose in the basket. >
Capital Grille Bread And Natura Water
They have the Natura water system here; a welcomed trend that more and more restaurants are using. For $4 you can get all of the carbonated water you want. It's more like Pellegrino than seltzer, and a large Pellegrino usually runs $7 in a place like this. I asked for lime but I had to ask again after the water was delivered without it.
Darden is famous for one particular annoyance that you'll find at both Seasons 52 and here; you can get a cup of soup for $10 or a bowl for $11. It's such a consumer unfriendly policy I have to wonder why they do it. They're basically saying, "We don't want to give you a cup of soup, but if you insist, we'll give you $1 off." Looking at the menu, it didn't appear that the Lunch "deal" was so great; one of the choices is a side that you get with any other entry, and the $18 price is about what you'd pay for an average item. So they're basically giving you the soup for free, while severely limiting your choices. I ordered the Lobster Roll, Truffle Fries and the asparagus soup. When they brought the soup; it was a lot smaller than I expected.
Capital Grille Cup of Asparagus Soup
This was a true "cup" of soup, which was surprising since they only charge $1 less. I expected it to be closer to a bowl. If they charge $9 for this then it would define a colossal rip-off. The soup was a deep green and looked better than pictures I'd seen of others. It needed some salt, but better too little than too much. A pretty good soup.
The servers are in constant motion here; they try to be stealthy but they're really looking at their tables to see when you're done. As soon as I was finished he was there, and the lobster roll came out maybe a minute later.
Capital Grille Lobster Roll and Truffle Fries
The big basket of fries makes the roll look even smaller than it was; it was pretty small. Usually lobster rolls go from $14 to $18 but they're usually bigger than this. The roll was toasted a bit too much, and there were some greens on the bun that I could have done without. It was the cold version; once I got it all squished into the roll so it could be eaten without a fork it was a decent sandwich.
I had to ask for ketchup as none was offered. Frankly the fries didn't do anything for me. The cheese was just a blob that sat on top; it would have been better grated because unless I wrapped it around a fry manually I wasn't getting any cheese. Without ketchup I didn't like them at all; with ketchup they were like regular, seasoned french fries.
One thing I did notice that was interesting was the $1 salt and pepper shakers on the table; with all of the gaudy decor I expected something a bit daintier. In fact, my general impression of the Capital Grille is that it's not quite as good as it should be. There are little nit-picky things and rough edges that take away from overall experience.
Capital Grille Boca 6000 West Glades Rd. Boca Raton FL, 33431 (09/14/2012)