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i went to the bar at morton's on connecticut avenue last night - meeting a freind who works in the building for plans later. until last evening i had assumed that the real differences between the big steakhouses was the service. the menus have pretty much the same fare, the wine lists are all expansive with a few gems and a few clunkers, they each did a pretty good job with a good cut of beef. had i been in the mood for a steak, i most likely would have continued to believe in this general culinary parity. cold and rainy nights scream for lobster bisque. a soup and the chopped salad was just what i wanted. the bisque arrived and to it's credit it was piping hot and it had the proper consistency, and that is all i can say to it's credit. it had no richness, the sherry influence was also m.i.a., and the two pathetic pieces of lobster claw were boiled for what must have been an interminable amount of time. if you scratched the surface of this soup you got more surface. just bad. if the only good things to be said of the bisque are that it was hot and liquid, then the only good thing to be said of the salad is that it was cold. it was listless lettuce haphazardly tossed with low grade blue cheese, some way past their prime tomatoes, and something that had the texture of bacon but none of its porkly goodness. the dressing was a thin vinaigrette that would have gone undetected except that i knew something was making the other ingredients slick. i am very gratefully for the gracious service provided by damian and liz (i think that is her name). but for $45 (pre-tip) for 2 beers, criminally bad soup and salad, i felt violated.
Signage is up for Del Frisco's Grill, taking over the old Les Halles space on Pennsylvania Avenue. Looks to be a more casual off shoot of Dallas-based Del Frisco's steakhouse. Steaks, cocktails, burgers, sandwiches, seafood, big salads, flatbreads, and yes truffled mac and cheese....you know the drill. But I suppose, realistically, only something corporate and chainy can afford that space.
Happy Hour at McCormick & Schmick's with the library crew turned out to be pretty good. Drinks are regular price (Most draft beer $5) but if you buy two, you unlock the $1.95 happy hour menu of apps and entrees. Most in the group got the cheeseburger, which looked pretty much like the entree cheeseburger and fries. There was also crab dip, artichoke dip, mussels...stuff like that. Looked like a pretty good deal. Weird hours, though: 3:30-6:30, then again 10:30-12:00.
RW Update: Last night had a great dinner at 1789 -- scallop ceviche "margarita," mussels, softshells, and more scallops for the lady as an entree. I told the waiter it was her birthday (which it was -- thank you, RW gods!), and her dessert (warm choco cake with the mintiest mint choco chip ice cream you'll ever have the fortune to come across) arrived with a candle and a birthday card from the staff. Lunch at Oceanaire yesterday -- Surprise! The RW menu is dinner only (damn you, RW gods!). I just don't get the appeal of this place, unless you like feeling like you're on a loud, overcrowded ship -- if I need seafood again and can't make it to O'Learys in Annapolis, I'm heading to Kinkead's. Strike one: the oyster po' boy looked like a package of van de camps fish nuggets dumped onto two giant pieces of puffy bread. Strike two: the following conversation -- Me: "Where do you get your crab meat from?" Waiter: [eyes dart side to side, shuffles a bit...] "They're a Chesapeake Bay Style crab cake, one of our most popular choices." Lady: "They're huge! And full of meat." Me: "Yes, but where do you get the crabs?" Waiter: "We get them from Philips; they provide most of the crabmeat in the region." Me: "Which is from Indonesia." Waiter: "Yes, but it's a very large crabcake." (Fortunately, the waiter went back to the kitchen to check and that day for some reason they had Marlyand blue crab.) Strike three: I still didn't like the crabcake. Too much breadcrumbs and parsley edging out the crab. With such a fat stomach and thin wallet, I decided to cancel my lunch at Vidalia tomorrow and go back to Breadline for the heirloom tomato salad and some chocolate + marscapone cookies, at half the price of a RW lunch (and no tips!).