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Capital Grille, a Tampa-Based Steakhouse Chain Owned By Darden Restaurants Since 2007


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Thanks, all, for your recommendations.  We're coming from Chevy Chase, but planning to get there really early to try for half price tickets - then going to eat.  Could probably park and then hop on the Metro to someplace not too far.

another option would be capital grille, it is on the same metro line and is about 1/2 block from a station. i would reccomend you sit at the bar as you might be pressed for time. items i would encourage you to try: the smoked salmon is some of the best that restaurants in this city are offering, the lobster crabcakes, and their very fun and spicy calamari. those three apps and you might not even need an entree.

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another option would be capital grille... those three apps and you might not even need an entree.

And based on the quality of the monolithic monotonic sirloin, overcooked mushy baked potato, and undercooked underseasoned brussels sprouts that I had there this past Sunday night, that would be a good thing. What a lousy meal.

And as for their "award winning wine list," well....

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The first time I ate at Capital Grille I was sold. Great food, impeccable service, and a nice atmosphere.

But that was about two years ago. I went back recently, only to find that either they had changed or first time had been a very good day, and the last time a very bad day. (Both were for long, late Friday lunches at the Penn Ave location.)

At my first meal, the food quality and preparations (the wedge salad, med-rare strip, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes) were terrific, and the timing was perfect. When my companion couldn't decide on a grappa after the meal, our waiter brought him easily six different tasters.

At my recent meal (same menu; I'm such a creature of habit), the waiter was reeeeallly casual (I thought he was going to sit down next to me) and my steak came IN THE MIDDLE of my salad (oh I hate that). When we were ready for the steaks, to their credit, we clearly got freshly cooked pieces, not the older ones that had been stuck-under-a-heatlamp. The side dishes were blah, and my meat had quite a bit of grisle. Afterward, the waiter couldn't help me at all with digestifs that weren't on the menu, and rather than letting me name a few options, cut me off after I mentioned one to run back to the bar and check. He did this twice, so I ended up just picking whatever to make him STOP RUNNING AWAY. And after the two of us racked up a $250 lunch bill, we still felt rushed out.

Bummer. Back to the Prime Rib, I suppose.

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Bummer to hear about the negative reports... I was their 2 or 3 years ago - no real reason but for a nice steak dinner and everything was just fabulous. The quiet table - knowledgeable server. I remember raving about the flavor of my filet, and with some 'blue' cheese topping... no problem with temps and I am picky. Also remebered well the wedge and can't remember other app... Think we had the dynamite cab too (yeah I know not exotic, but I still think it's good). Oh and they did have a great version of my favorite dessert, fresh berries with cream... nice signature cocktail too (stoli doli) Really have been wanting to take the BF there (he's never been) but is it no longer worth it?

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Ah, yes--I did have the berries with cream. The Prime Rib does one too. Best. Dessert. Ever.

I'm not willing to damn the place completely because, while the food was lackluster, I think that many of our problems could have been solved by a better waiter. The only problem is that, even for lunch, Capital Grille costs a pretty penny, and I'm not ready to roll the dice again yet.

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I'm one of the sheisty lobbyists that I've read about here (I love the Signatures thread -- it's almost entirely about how to have a good meal there and avoid people like me. :lol: )

Because of my job, I eat at Capital Grille (the Penn Ave location) usually two to three times a week. If I had to recommend my "bests", I'd say:

Onion Soup (SUPREMELY cheesy and delicious)

Calimari (I swear I think it's the best in the city -- love the spicy peppers)

The Delmonico (not the mushroom crusted one). This is their best cut of meat if you're not afraid of a little marbling.

The Au Gratin Potatoes. I've had them a few times where they've come out not totally cooked, though, so check them when you get them.

Their desserts can all be fairly good and they're pretty consistent from meal to meal (not always the case with their entrees and appetizers)

The service in the dining room can be hit or miss. The service at the bar is pretty great though. Tom, Mark and Patrick take really good care of the massive crowds that swarm in there throughout the week.

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...The service in the dining room can be hit or miss.  The service at the bar is pretty great though.  Tom, Mark and Patrick take really good care of the massive crowds that swarm in there throughout the week.

i have not eaten in the dining room in at least three years. i always sit at the bar becuase i agree with bonaire, the service there is terrific. but while tom, mark, and patrick were mentioned, the lovely and charming sonja was not. she also does a very nice job attending to the needs of her guests.

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I object to the insinuation that lobbyists are "sheisty."  A shyster is a pejorative  for a disreputable lawyer.  I'm relatively sure that the shyster community would abhor being associated with lobbyists.

Hahaha...I'm sure you're right! I'll slither back in my hole now... :lol:

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i have not eaten in the dining room in at least three years.  i always sit at the bar becuase i agree with bonaire, the service there is terrific.  but while tom, mark, and patrick were mentioned, the lovely and charming sonja was not.  she also does a very nice job attending to the needs of her guests.

You're quite right. Sonja is wonderful. I'm just usually relegated to the dining room during the day, when she works.

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And based on the quality of the monolithic monotonic sirloin, overcooked mushy baked potato, and undercooked underseasoned brussels sprouts that I had there this past Sunday night, that would be a good thing.  What a lousy meal.

And as for their "award winning wine list," well....

Edit that to read "award winning corporate wine list".

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Capital Grille (at least the one on Penn but I imagine all of them) has added a few items to their menu, including a rather delicious lobster mac & cheese. It's a small meal unto itself -- big chunks of lobster, good amount of cheesieness w/o being too liquidy. They've also added massive onion rings and a few other items I haven't been able to try out yet. But definitely hit the mac & cheese if you get in there....

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I took my mother to the downtown DC Capital Grille last night, thinking she'd love it, and she did. I much prefer Ray's the Steaks but without the ability to make a reservation or get my mother a vodka martini...well, she'd be less than thrilled. So off we went. It was fine IMO, spectacular from hers. *shrugs*

But here's a question: do the waiters there always present a business card at the end of the meal?

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I took my mother to the downtown DC Capital Grille last night, thinking she'd love it, and she did. I much prefer Ray's the Steaks but without the ability to make a reservation or get my mother a vodka martini...well, she'd be less than thrilled. So off we went. It was fine IMO, spectacular from hers. *shrugs*

But here's a question: do the waiters there always present a business card at the end of the meal?

This is a rather common practice for them when they think that you may return soon... or that you're kinda hot.

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The best thing at the Capitol Grille is the "stoli Dolli" which is a martini made with the Stoli has Dole Pinapples submerged in it for a week.

After two of those one seems less worried about the prices. The steaks are great and so is the wine list. But $$$$

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I can't believe anyone would eat at an establishment owned by the parent company of Olive Garden. I mean you can't even get the nasty bottomless breadsticks and salad with your delicious porterhouse and bottle of Cask 23 so I mean really, what's the point. :lol:

my my, so pretentious.

I guess I eat there because unlike most of the places I dine at in DC which have the patented "DC Service" I get 1/4 the additute and 3X better service. And honestly? I think the food there is pretty good. Yeah, I could go to the other place, where I can't get a reservation and I have to wait all GD night to be served and have a really really good meal. But at the Capital Grill I can get a reservation, have a wonderful drink at the bar and have a nice evening without driving to VA and waiting for the honor to eat there.

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I'm a fan of CG b/c they are consistently good. Over the years I've had no complaints and have enjoyed steak after steak.

I can recall one time though (and this guy must have been a new server) when I was being 'educated' on the difference between a pinot and a cab. My server was making the good ol' milk analogy between the two (skim v. whole milk)...needless to say that was my first and last time seeing him.

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Some days, only a big fat steak will do. Double-digit miles under my belt, limping with blister (but not bluster), I drove past an empty Caucus Room and couldn't bear to dine in a crypt, so I let parking dictate my destination, finding a choice space outside of The Source, and limped inside only to find it completely full, so I limped across the street to Capitol Grille, and found one, single seat at the bar. I took it.

The wines here are as pedestrian and overpriced as ever - a terrible, corporate-driven list that remains one of our city's points of shame. I ordered a Peroni ($6), refusing to subsidize their vanilla complacency, and was waiting for the beer to kick in enough to anesthetize me so I could limp back over to The Source. But then I saw two plates come by, delivered to a gentleman several seats down the bar, and it was EXACTLY what I was craving: a big, fat, charred steak and a nuclear baked potato.

The bartender came over, and I think for the first time in my entire life, I said, "I'll have what he's having," pointing down at the object of my lust (the big fat steak, not the patron).

It was a Porcini Rubbed Delmonico with 12-Year Aged Balsamic ($44) from the Chef's Suggestions section - a slab of meat that was soon to be mine, mine, all mine. I completely capitulated, and ordered a glass of Chateau Montelena ($18) from the special by the glass list. Thomas, the super-friendly bartender, brought out a large Bordeaux stem, and emptied the tail-end of a bottle of Montelena into it: an insufficient pour.

'Here we go,' I thought to myself. 'He's going to marry two different bottles in my glass.'

But I was wrong. "This will be part one," he said. "I'm not going to mix the bottles." I thanked him, and he said, "you don't do that at this level of wine."

My steak arrived, along with my giant baked potato ($7). Butter? Check. Sour cream? Check. Chives? Check. The entire tub of bacon? Check. Salt and pepper? Check and check. I launched into this meat-and-potatoes meal with the fury of a lion. After a short while, I'd finished part one of the wine, and Thomas came back and poured part two: a full five- or six-ounce pour. "We'll call it even," he said.

I was so hungry that I didn't think I'd ever get full. Two-thirds of the way through my meal, I wasn't even fazed, and actually became worried that I'd need to go somewhere else after my feeding. I say "feeding," because I place this type of consumption somewhere between "scarfing," which is what I do when I'm eating take-out Chinese alone at home, and "dining," which is what I do nearly every night.

The bill including tax was $82.50, and a $17 tip brought it up to $99.50. I escaped at double digits, and finally, for the first time, I felt like I "got" Capital Grille - the food was good, and the excellent service took everything a step higher.

Cheers,

Rocks

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I completely capitulated, and ordered a glass of Chateau Montelena ($18) from the special by the glass list. Thomas, the super-friendly bartender, brought out a large Bordeaux stem, and emptied the tail-end of a bottle of Montelena into it: an insufficient pour.

'Here we go,' I thought to myself. 'He's going to marry two different bottles in my glass.'

But I was wrong. "This will be part one," he said. "I'm not going to mix the bottles." I thanked him, and he said, "you don't do that at this level of wine."

After a short while, I'd finished part one of the wine, and Thomas came back and poured part two: a full five- or six-ounce pour. "We'll call it even," he said.

So pleased to know that you occasionally sip over to the dark side with those of us who enjoy new world wines, Don. So how was the Chateau Montelena?

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There's also a new Capital Grille that opened this week in Chevy Chase (according to Opentable, the Executive Chef is Bobby Varua).

I stopped in here for a drink and an app last week... Things ran pretty smoothly considering it was the second night of being open for business. There were a few rough edges in the service, but am looking forward to having it in the neighborhood.

I'm sure it's probably this way at all the locations, but the mark up on that wine list... eek.

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So for grins I decided that I'd like to go to lunch with a friend. She wanted a place where she'd never been. I wanted to pay Restaurant Week prices. We both wanted Tyson's, since it is about halfway between her home in Maryland and mine in Virginia. We also wanted a place so we could actually have a business meeting that involved verbal communications. We ended up at the Capital Grille in Tyson's. As is the case with first time visitors to this steak house, it took a while for her to find her way into the parking lot (hint, you can only get there if you enter International Drive from Rt. 7).

We actually had a choice of a number of nice entrees. I wanted something lighter than a steak, so I ordered their crab and lobster sandwich with the house-made potato chips. She chose the same thing.

I halfway expected a crabcake with a little lobster and a lot of filler. That's not what I got.

It turns out that the broiled crab and lobster "burger" is very light on filler, and chock full of wonderful crab and lobster flavor. I found pleasant chunks of crab and big chunks of lobster, but little if any breading. The flavor was light and focused on the main ingredients. The meat was delivered perched on a bed of shredded lettuce (can't win 'em all), but the bun was toasted brioche. The tarter sauce was house-made, but I used only a half teaspoon or so, so that I wouldn't cover up the flavor of the seafood. It resulted in a pretty big meal - much larger than I'd expected. But I ate the whole thing anyway.

The house made chips were just right. Warm, crisp, little sign of oil, but enough salt to make them taste like potato chips.

You get three courses, so I started with the Caesar salad. I'm rarely impressed with Caesar salad because it's usually boring, but in this case it appears that the Capital Grille makes their own dressing. It has actual anchovies. I was astonished, given the uniformly bad dressing in these parts. Desert was a flourless chocolate cake. It will cause chocolate overload in all but the most dedicated chocolate lover. I don't particularly like that much chocolate, but I like cheesecake even less, and that was the other choice. When I looked at my plate after a few minutes, something mysterious had happened. Apparently my cake had evaporated or something. All that remained was a little residue. I guess it was the low humidity. I know I don't like chocolate enough to have eaten the whole thing. Do I?

For $20.10, this was a seriously good deal. The food was quite good, the service was better than I expected given the madhouse that's Restaurant Week around here. In fact, the waiter took time out from his mad rush to guide my friend through the Tyson's maze to the restaurant.

I know this is a chain, and from what Don says, the wine is overpriced. But it was lunch and I didn't have wine.

After a long period of one disappointment after another eating out around here, this was a true bright spot. I'll go back here for lunch any ol' time.

The only downside to this lunch is that I'll obviously have to tack on another fifty miles or so when I hit the A.T. once the weather breaks. But that's not much of a downside, given the glory of the Trail in the spring.

Wayne Rash

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It had been years since I was last at a Capital Grille. Boston or some other city.

Found myself there a few nights back due to circumstances beyond my control. Despite the passage of time, it was just as I remembered from a different city.

I had lamb chops because I was jonesing for a hangar or flat iron and CG doesn't do those. Our loquacious and highly competent waiter, perhaps a bit pendantic, seemed positively delighted when I asked, explaining that "those cuts are the most flavorful but need to be carefully made, requiring more time." Yes, indeed they do. So, lamb, which was fine. Can't really complain about the 4 or 5 chops, cooked as I'd asked.

She had some kind of sirloin--not the Delmonico but still an around $40 piece of beef. Again, fine though would have benefited from more thoughtful seasoning.

A side of mushrooms was amply portioned if underseasoned like the steak.

We had some other side and a glass of wine, neither of which I can remember enough to share details.

The service was very attentive and expert though a bit annoying. We didn't leave annoyed though. We left holding the waiter's card and wondering if two more visits would earn us one of those quirky, other-era wine lockers by the main entrance. I loved that just one of the 60 or so wine lockers had boxes of Cubans in it and a brass name tag indicating the owner as a Cigar vendor/retailer. Isn't the FBI just a few blocks from this place? :D

So, my bottom line on Capital Grille. I don't know why someone would go here unless they were a) forced into it due to circumstances as Don was a few years ago (upthread), b ) it was someone else's idea like a business meal, c) someone else was paying or d) they didn't know the local restaurant market at all.

If I want a great steak, I'd go to BLT or to Ray's or one of our other, non steak house, fine restaurants that serve excellent steaks even though they don't offer wine lockers. Or cigar lockers. Or give out cards at the end of the meal.

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I had lunch at Capital Grille at 6th and Penn yesterday. This is the only instance of CG I've been to, and I believe I've always had the same meal the three or four times I've been: raw oysters followed by their "lobster and crab burger". The oysters yesterday went beyond memorable. They were among the plumpest and most luscious oysters I've ever encountered, and I enjoyed eating them as much as I've enjoyed eating anything in my life. At three dollars each, though, they will have to remain an infrequent indulgence. The lobster and crab burger was very well made and well served, and the shoestring fries I had with it were just what you want pommes frites to be: hot, crisp, salty. I can readily believe that it's possible to get a lousy meal there, but if you order as I have always done, I think you'll be pleased.

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Any menu recommendations for this place for lunch? I am compelled to attend for a work holiday lunch and have found the food so far somewhat lackluster. It doesn't help that my choices are further limited by my not eating pork or shellfish (so even their burger which is mixed with bacon is not an option). Thanks.

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I don't think Capital Grille deserves a yuk.

Capital Grille was founded in 1990, and became part of RARE (that's the stock-exchange symbol) which was purchased by Darden in 2007. Give it time. :)

I've had less luck at Capital Grille than others have in the past, although my experience is limited.

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I certainly never seek it out, but I've ended up at the Capital Grille in DC either for work or most recently for a friend's birthday party it has always been fine. My experience with the Cap Grille is limited to that one spot, but it's not a place I'll actively avoid, I've had solid meals there, and service has always been excellent. 

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I have never had a bad meal at CG and the Stolli Dolli's are usually perfect. I have eaten atCG in Baltimore, Downtwn DC and Tysons and each time was very good such that I'd go back.  My preference compared to other joints where they show you the uncooked food first.  I have not been to Charlie Palmer yet but I would expect them to be very similar.  Not saying it is a great value like Ray's but the ambience and room between the tables are valued.

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I had lunch at the Pennsylvania Avenue Capital Grille yesterday with three friends visiting from California after we toured the wonderful Newseum. Call me a sadistic guide--I made them walk up several flights of stairs to enjoy the spectacular view from the museum's top floor, instead of riding up in the glass elevator (oops!) so we were all ready to sit for a spell and enjoy a relaxing lunch. They all ordered the burger with bacon and raved about it. All three said it was perfection and they wouldn't change a thing about the dish.

I ordered a crock of French Onion Soup and it was quite good--laden with cheese and rich with onion flavor.

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