Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Captivating Night at the Capital Grille

The Capital Grille
3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Well we are getting into that time of the year again. It starts in April with my Brother-in-Law's birthday, and it goes all the way through mid June, with my parents anniversary and Father's Day. It seems like every week during this time of the year, we have either someones birthday to celebrate, or it is a national holiday, like Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day etc. This week it is Katie's turn to be pampered. I was picking her up from work, and we were going to be heading out for a nice dinner. She wanted me to surprise her, so I knew exactly where I was going to be taking her. We headed straight for the Capital Grille.

Capital Grille has been at South Coast Plaza for close to three years now. They took over the upper half of the old Clubhouse restaurant. Their sister restaurant, Seasons 52 now occupies the bottom level of the space. We have only been to Capital Grille for a media event, but that event impressed me enough to put this restaurant on my list of places to try. Capital Grille is pretty big back east, and really trying to win customers steakhouse dollars. They operate in 24 states, and the only other California location is in Los Angeles, at the Beverly Center. This OC location of Capital Grille helps complete what I like to call the Steak Pyramid. I came up with this because within a two block radius, there are two other big power hitters in the world of steakhouses, Maestro's and Morton's. I have not blogged about dinner at either of these, but we will be visiting soon to see who reigns supreme on top of our steak pyramid.

I had made reservations for 6pm on a recent Wednesday night. The dining room at Capital Grille was filled with older customers, all in business attire. More of the same demographic was located in the small bar area as well. There are wine lockers throughout the restaurant. This is a steakhouse, so of course dark colors and muted lighting are to be expected. They also feature large paintings of what our waiter called local OC people. I did not recognize the name of the old time tennis star that was depicted in the painting near our table though. I also forgot to write the name down, as I was going to do. Oh well, we had food to consume, so lets see how everything came out for us.

Staring things off was the bread basket that came to the table shortly after we sat down. I can not remember getting a more diverse bread basket anywhere. This had four kinds of bread, including the naan like creation. I liked the simple poppy seed/sesame roll the best. It was very fresh, and the soft butter that came with this spread over the warmed bread easily. It had a good crunch to the crust, and we could not help but to ask for more of these.

Katie went her usual route, when she started with the Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil with 15 Year Aged Balsamic ($13). Capital Grille's version of a Caprese salad was really something special to Katie. They start with at least six different types of tomatoes here as the base. Then the big slices of tomato are added on top of that, with large basil leafs. This gives each bite a hit of the basil. The mozzarella is made every two hours in the kitchen at Capital Grille, so you know you are getting the freshest cheese around. Katie could really tell the difference with this mozzarella. Then the plate is drizzled with the fifteen year old balsamic and olive oil. Katie really thought this was a very generous sized salad, which could have easily fed two people. She liked the variety of the tomatoes on this salad, and would definitely get this salad again.

Since Katie was going with her usual salad choice, I decided that was a green light for me to do the same, so I ordered the Caesar Salad ($10). I had mixed feelings towards this salad. On the positive side, the Parmesan cheese was plentiful and good, while the croutons here were not overly crunchy, and still had a good chew to them. This salad could have used a few more croutons though. The lettuce could have been cut into smaller pieces, and the dressing could have been added more liberally. This salad was not bad, but nothing special either. I'd probably go with the spinach salad or the wedge on my next visit here.

Of course we are in a steak restaurant and the birthday girl orders fish. It's just as well though, because she likes her steak well done, and in these kinds of restaurants I always cringe when she orders it that way. This Parmesan Crusted Sole with Avocado and Crab Salad ($39) made the birthday girl as happy as any piece of over cooked steak ever would. She felt that the fish was light and flaky, without the greasiness she was expecting. The breading did make this dish a little richer than she had thought it would be. Almost overshadowing the fish was the avocado and crab salad. She loved how this simple salad was dressed, the fresh hunks of avocado, and the sweetness from the succulent crab. She loved this salad so much, she suggested that they offer it on their regular menu. Glad this meal made Katie so happy.

I had whittled down my steak choices down to two, then I asked the waiter for his opinion. He told me to go with the Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin with Shallot Butter ($46). I was very happy with this steak. This is really a man's steak. I was a little worried that the coffee flavor was going to overpower, but it was a nice compliment to the natural flavor of the beef. This steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, as you can see in the picture above. Even with the bone, this steak had enough meat to satisfy my big appetite. The shallot butter was a nice, not over the top complimentary sauce here.

As with almost all of the finer steakhouses, side items are not included with the entrees. Both Katie and I chose one side item to share. Her choice was the Lobster Mac and Cheese ($16). This is one of my favorite versions of this dish ever. This dish was predictably rich, but the richness did not overpower. The noodles were cooked quite well, the crumb topping added some texture, and this had bigger hunks of lobster in it than most of the other lobster macs I have had. This is a must get side item when you are at Capital Grille. I really enjoy Creamed Spinach ($10) and the one here really impressed. It's hard to get the consistency right with this side dish, but Capital Grille managed to do it. The spinach was cooked well, and the extra creaminess could be attributed to the addition of a bechamel sauce. We were two for two with our choices for sides here.

I had casually mentioned that it was Katie's birthday to our waiter, and at the end of our meal he brought out  a Creme Brulee for us to share. This creme brulee had a very smooth texture, with a very mild flavor. It was not overly sweet, like some brulee's can be. The berries resting on top of this dessert were very fresh, and I gave my share of these to the birthday girl. See, I can be giving sometimes.

We really enjoyed our visit to Capital Grille. The entrees and sides really shined here. It has been a long while since I have been to a real steakhouse, and it was good to be eating in one again. Due to the prices here, I would classify this restaurant as a special occasion restaurant. One in which you come for birthdays, anniversaries, and when you get a raise at your job. Worth special mention is the service that we got on this night. Our waiter, Shaun, really took great care of us and anticipated our every need. The management team was very hands on, making sure every table was taken care of. Bill came by to check on us twice, and on the third time to our table he wished Katie a happy birthday. It is safe to say that the Capital Grille will now become part of our rotation for family celebrations.

Out of five doughnuts, (because Capital Grille was founded in Providence, Rhode Island, and that city has the most doughnut shops per capita as any other city in the US), five being best to zero being worst, The Capital Grille gets 4 doughnuts.

For more information about The Capital Grille, click here: https://www.thecapitalgrille.com/

The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon


  1. Capital Grill is definitely over the top. The last two times I've been to Morton's, it was for company events (wouldn't pass up a company paid for trip there) and the service was good.

    But it seems when you are in a 2 or 4 party at these places the service is over the top. Especially @ Capital Grill. The previous Morton's trip with a small party was excellent to over the top too, to be fair.

  2. Jim - I wish my company would have events at these type of places. We are lucky if we get grocery store fried chicken. I was really impressed with the service here. They really wanted to make sure we were having a great time, without being too intrusive. Probably a lot more attention gets lavished on you when you are in a smaller group than a larger group. Thanks for taking the time to comment on the blog.