Due to work obligations and other personal obligations, my husband and I hadn’t spent an entire weekend together for many weeks. Now that we were actually going have a weekend together, we decided we’d have date night on Saturday evening. After a little debate back and forth as to where we should have date night, my husband figured that it was worth a little splurge to go to a restaurant that we had both been wanting to trying for over a year. And we weren’t disappointed.
Capital Grille is a nationally renowned steakhouse known for their dry aged steaks which they dry age on the premises at each of their 40+ locations. Along with their great steaks, each location also has a selection of over 300+ wines on site which compliment each meal perfectly. It’s too bad that neither my husband nor I drink, so the wine selection is wasted on us. But seeing cellars full of wine inside the restaurant was kind of neat. The dining room was beautifully decorated with dark rich mahogany wood throughout sprinkled with beautifully muted landscape portraits as well as portraits of local Orange County legends such as Gene Autry and John Wayne. While most steakhouses have an aura of being stuffy and upscale, Capital Grille really had a relaxed, completely unpretentious atmosphere that was fun and enjoyable.
Before even stepping foot in the restaurant, my husband and I had already perused through the menu online so we had an idea of what we wanted to order. We figured this date night was a bit of a celebration so we were willing to go all out. Before we even got started, our waiter appeared at our table with a bread basket filled with goodies. Unfortunately, as my husband and I wanted to savor our meal and not spoil it by getting full off of bread, we pretty much avoided the bread basket. Our waiter also proceeded to tell us about the house specialties, the dry aging process, and the various cuts of meats they serve at the restaurant. He then gave us a few minutes to make our choices before he took our order.
We had told him that this was our first time to the restaurant, so he really took his time with us and really explained everything and was completely accommodating to our needs. Even though we both ordered an appetizer, he had asked us whether or not he should bring the appetizers out at the same time along with some side plates so that we could both share the appetizers. It’s that extra level of service which really made the night memorable. My husband knew as soon as he looked at the menu that he had to order the Lobster and Dungeness Crab cakes. My husband is a sucker for crab cakes and there’s no way he’d pass up the opportunity here. The crab cakes came served with a side of tartar sauce and some corn relish, as well as a lemon wrapped in cheesecloth (which was a nice touch) for us to be able to squeeze lemon juice over the crab and lobster cake. The cakes were incredibly crunchy on the outside, and moist and delicious on the inside. Capital Grille doesn’t fill their crab and lobster cakes with unnecessary fillings like veggies and bread crumbs. This was pure Dungeness crab meat sprinkled with chunks of lobster meat. It was perfectly prepared and went so beautifully with the tartar sauce. If this was the start of the meal, I couldn’t wait to see what the rest of the meal brought!
Our second appetizer was the Wagyu beef carpaccio. A carpaccio is the name for a dish of thinly sliced or pounded thin meat or fish served raw as an appetizer. Ok, so raw food is generally not my thing. But, I’d never had Wagyu beef before, and I figured what better way to actually taste the meat itself than to have it in this kind of preparation. So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and ordered this appetizer. The appetizer came with an arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette and was topped off with fresh shaved parmesan cheese. When the dish was brought out to the table, the waiter had asked if we would like fresh cracked black pepper on the dish, to which my husband and I both said yes as we both love fresh cracked black pepper. For me, this dish was a revelation. The Wagyu beef just melted in my mouth. It was so paper-thin and delicious. To me, I equated it with what it would be like to have butter melt in your mouth. The arugula salad was ultra peppery and mixed with the fresh cracked pepper it provided a nice bite to the dish. The lemon vinaigrette was tangy and the shaved parmesan accompanied the dish perfectly. The combination of all of the ingredients was heavenly. I didn’t even give a second thought to the fact that this was raw beef, it was just so incredibly excellent.
For the soup course, my husband and I were both eyeing the French Onion soup. Instead of us both ordering a cup, since the menu suggests that they actually serve a crock of the soup, we decided to get a crock of the soup and split it between us. This would save us for our entrée later. The crock of French Onion soup came to our table steaming hot and perfectly done. This large crock with double handles overloaded with Gruyère cheese melted right over the top of the crock. The cheese was perfect melted and gooey and wonderful all in one bite. Right underneath the cheese was a crusty bread crouton that they had used to top the French Onion soup. Amazingly, even after it had soaked up the broth from the soup, it still remained crunchy and delicious. There is a tendency for French Onion soup to be really salty, but not in this case. It was so perfectly cooked. It was delicious and tangy and sweet and beautiful. This French Onion soup was certainly to-die-for. My husband and I both approved wholeheartedly.
When it came down to the entrée, after a little debate back and forth, my husband and I decided to split a steak (gasp!) and share a bunch of sides. We had debated whether or not we should each get a steak and a side each, but then that seemed like a lot of food, and there were a lot of different sides that we wanted to try. So, in the end, it seemed to make most sense to split the steak and order 3 sides, which is what we did.
The steak we chose was the chef’s suggestion of the porcini rubbed delmonico with 12-year aged balsamic. At the Capital Grille, delmonico is just a fancy word for their ribeye cut. The steak is 22 ounces, so unless you’re really hungry, its more than enough to feed 2 people. The waiter also mentioned that this steak was the most flavorful steak on the menu, naturally because it was a bone-in ribeye. But since it’s a ribeye, it’s also the fattiest cut of steak, which is where all the flavor comes from. I was a bit nervous about the porcini rub since I’m not a mushroom fan, but you couldn’t really taste it at all. The waiter didn’t blink at all when we told him we’d split the steak, and in fact asked us if we wanted to go ahead and have him cut it into 2 portions so we’d both get our own plate. He also asked us if we wanted to have the porcini rub charred on the outside to give it extra flavor, we said to go ahead and char it. Normally, I’d order a steak medium, but when you’re at a restaurant like this, it almost seems sacrilegious to cook the steak that long and lose the flavor and juices. So, I agreed to a medium rare steak. I knew that they knew what they were doing, so I trusted the chef. True to his word, the waiter brought the delmonico out to our table already pre-split in the kitchen into 2 different pieces. I got the meatier cut of the ribeye. When it came out to the table I think I began salivating right away. It was perfectly cooked and it looked like I could scarf the whole thing down! On the plate was drizzled the 12-year aged balsamic. I’ve got to admit that the balsamic was the best I’ve ever tasted, and it complimented the steak perfectly. The steak was tender and delicious and completely melt-in-your-mouth. The delmonico was cooked to perfection and was so juicy and tender that it probably ruins any future steak for me.
My husband received the heartier portion of the delmonico, the cut containing the bone. He devoured it and was in steak-heaven. Mind you, this is a guy who loves meat and potatoes, but isn’t the hugest fan of steak. In fact, he said, that he never used to understand why people would go all ga-ga for steak because it was just so-so for him, but now that he’s had a taste of this delmonico, he certainly says he understands why people pay top dollar for quality steak. He ate his whole steak making sure to clean the bone of any meat. He loved his steak. Sadly, I must admit that even though I only had a half portion of steak, with all of the wonderful fixings, I didn’t finish my steak. But that actually turned out to be my gain, because steak the next day at lunch was out of this world good!
Because we decided to split the steak, we were able to sample 3 of their side dishes. The first was their world-famous Lobster Mac ‘n’ cheese. This dish was like nothing I’d ever tried or experienced before. First off, instead of being a cheesy, ooey, goeey mac ‘n’ cheese, this was more like rotini-style pasta sitting in a bed of cheese roux, which, to me, was an interesting presentation. Served in its own individual cast iron skillet, the mac ‘n’ cheese wasn’t baked into the skillet, or the cheese melted over the noodles. Essentially, it was like cooked noodles dropped into this liquidy sauce and then ladled into the skillet. It tasted smooth and velvety, but not overwhelming in the cheese flavor, which was good. Interspersed with the cheese sauce and the noodles were huge hunks of tender, succulent lobster meat. And it wasn’t just a couple of pieces of lobster, there was a lot of lobster meat. And finally, the whole dish was topped with delicately prepared, and super crunchy and crispy bread crumbs. This dish was luxurious, divine, and incredibly tasty. It was almost a dish in and of itself.
Our second side dish was parmesan truffle fries. Served in a kitschy french fry basket, these french fries were thick and hearty. Not quite the cut of steak fries, but certainly fries with some meat to them, not the thin shoestring fries, which in my opinion was a good thing. You could certainly taste the truffle oil sprinkled over the french fries, which was fantastic. It gave the fries a great aroma, but wasn’t too overpowering that you couldn’t taste the french fry. Then parmesan was shaved lightly onto of the whole basket of fries. So you got the crunchy fry, the soft inside, the luxurious truffle oil and the slighty salty parmesan. This was a perfect side dish to the steak and a great alternative to the normal potato sides.
The final side dish was creamed corn with smoked bacon. Oh, just thinking about how good this was is sinful. The creamed corm was creamy and velvety, and struck the perfect cord between being too runny or too thick. Sometimes creamed corm just comes out more like creamed pudding and the corn kernels are mushy, but not here. This was perfect, you could see and taste the individual corn kernels and the taste of the cream was perfect and delightful. The smoked bacon was a perfect muse for the creamed corn. The sauce and the corn really took on the taste of the bacon and the smokiness that came from in. Even the next day, the leftovers from this dish were enough to make my mouth water. I had worried that the creaminess of this dish along with the creaminess of the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese might be too much, but it wasn’t at all. They were of a different texture and taste and one didn’t deter from the other. I loved this side dish and would definitely order it again!
Can you believe that after all this, we still had room for dessert? Now you can see why I didn’t finish my portion of the steak and the sides because I knew that I wanted to try the dessert. So I was careful not to overdo it with dinner.
My husband and I debated back and forth over what we should order for dessert. But after the waiter came by and explained the desserts to us and gave us a brief description, my husband knew exactly what he wanted and I knew exactly what I wanted. I ordered the classic creme brulee with seasonal berries. Really, what is better than creme brulee? That creamy custard with a hint of vanilla all encased underneath a hardened sugar crust and topped with seasonal berries, who could resist? And this one was pretty darn hard to resist. The seasonal berries were blackberries, blueberries, a strawberry and raspberries. That was enough to send my husband over the moon. The creamy custard of this creme brulee was truly melt-in-your-mouth velvet. This may have been the best creme brulee I’ve ever had!
We had originally decided to just order the creme brulee until my husband heard a description of the coconut creme pie and then he couldn’t resist. Instead of just being a slice of coconut cream pie, this was actually and individual sized pie made with a macaroon cookie crust. The coconut creme inside was divine. It had the right amount of coconut flavor without being overpowering. It was topped by homemade whipped cream and toasted coconut. The dessert also was served with a large wafer cookie as a sort of garnish and a little bit of caramel drizzle over the whole thing. This was definitely the best coconut cream pie I’ve ever had. The flavor hit just the right note without being too overpowering.
And finally, something that I thought was such a great touch. The items that we couldn’t finish from dinner, I had them box up to go. The to go bag actually came tethered with a note from the Capital Grille and signed by the chef (or someone designated by the chef) thanking us for our patronage. I thought that this was a really classy touch and something I’d never seen before.
My husband and I both walked away from Capital Grille thoroughly sated and completely blown away by the food and the experience at the restaurant. We went in thinking that this might be our own trip to the restaurant, now we know that we will be back because the food is just too good to pass up!