Monday, June 23, 2008

Taste of DC

It’s become a much anticipated tasty tradition. Every year, we get together with some good friends of ours from Nashville for a culinary tour of a U.S. city. We research which new chefs are creating buzz, emerging restaurants and the absolute “musts” for those who appreciate good food. Much goes into the planning of the trip, but once we have our itinerary we are as giddy as children the night before Christmas.
This year we’re focusing on Washington D.C. with a side trip to the Virginia countryside (one of my favorite places for foxhunting) for a stay at The Inn at Little Washington. We typically hit the ground running, packing in as many places to visit as we possibly can and this trip is no exception. Below is a brief look at our upcoming trip. We’ll have a complete review upon our return!
Black Salt
Beck Brasserie
Inn at Little Washington - chef's tasting menu
Vidalia - we will be doing side-by-side tasting of Dalla Valle and Hour Glass Cabernet (YUM!!!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Every place has an off night - Mortons Steakhouse

Morton's Steakhouse for me, has always been the pinnacle of steakhouses. Now, I've been to plenty of places in my day, Murray's in Minneapolis, Plaza III in Kansas City (both of which are two of my top favorites when it comes steaks) along with a host of other places across our great nation who's speciality is preparing the perfect cut of red meat.

In an era of "steaks and chops" gone by, the nostalgic atmosphere of Morton's with the consistent quality and service is something I look forward to and cherish when "dining" out. My husband and I actually make our entire evening out at Morton's an event. Dressed up of course, he in a suit with French cuffs, cuff links etc., me in , dare I say it, an Audrey Hepburnesque dress; we pop Frank Sinatra and Chet Baker into the CD player and head out with only high expectations for the evening.

Raw oyster's on the half shell with a martini to start, followed by a wedge salad and blue cheese, awaiting the perfectly prepared rare filet while our bottle wine breathes, then the meal ending with the chocolate cake and a Baileys and coffee.

As you can tell, I too am quite nostalgic when it comes to my experiences with Morton's. So you can only imagine how excited I was when a good friend of mine recently told me she visited Morton's for the first time. Quickly I perked up and asked how she enjoyed her experience, ready of course to hear only a positive recount of her evening.

"Horrible," she said answering my question.

It came like a blow to my gut, I was saddened but stunned. I think I actually entered into the first stage of grief - denial - at that moment.

"You mean Morton's the steakhouse," I asked. She must surely be mistaken.

"Yes," she replied. She then began to share every horrible detail of the evening.

1 - they weren't offered a wine list

2 - when the server started to take their order, they requested a wine list

3- they asked for wine recommendations based on their meal - with a reply from the server "I don't like wine"

4 - no wine steward or sommelier was sent over

5- the salad attendant spilled bacon bits from the salad condiments all over the table and into a glass of wine, while the table linen was quickly cleared of bits, there was never an effort to replace the glass of wine

6 - when asking to replace the glass of wine, the server brought over another glass, but not of the wine they were drinking, but a substitute

7 - their steaks were not cooked to order

By this time, I heard enough and was truly saddened knowing how many wonderful dinners I've enjoyed at Morton's. Trying to show that Morton's does have a niche for service and is prepared to prove quality to their customers, I asked what they at least though about he presentation cart . She replied "what cart?" My enthusiasm about their evening was dwindling with every detail. So I quickly, and delicately, walked her through what her evening should have been. From Morton's standard's of service, to its history and trademark slogan "the best steak anywhere" along my past experiences with the restaurant's educated and professional wine staff in Richmond, Virginia, Chicago, Seattle, DC, and Nashville, I know in my culinary heart she and her party had to of been there on an off night.

(this story had been also told by other members of the dining party that evening)