This might be a controversial statement, but here goes: I don't like the Capital Grille.
A few years ago (it feels like eons ago) I went there with my then-boyfriend and his family. Everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed as I sat there wondering, am I trying the wrong thing? I kept my mouth shut since I wasn't paying and hate saying negative things about food in the presence of others who are enjoying themselves, but I couldn't help but wonder what the fuss was all about.
This past weekend, my parents kindly invited me to join them at Capital Grille since they had received a gift certificate there for Christmas. Free (fancy) food—score! I was ready to give this restaurant another shot—especially since it again was not something I’d have to pay for. Maybe my tastes had changed/matured?
The location on Newbury Street was all booked, so we opted for its Chestnut Hill spot. When we walked in the restaurant at 6 pm it was already very crowded. We were seated in an intimate yet cramped back room filled with wine bottles. The menus were these ridiculously big plastic monstrosities with a font size that my 91 year old grandfather could probably read without any glasses (p.s. happy early birthday, grandpa!).
While I could probably easily go vegetarian most of the time, once in awhile a good piece of red meat is just what the doctor ordered (well not literally, because I’m pretty sure a doctor wouldn’t endorse a 24 oz porterhouse… but who knows?). We each got a different steak dish—Dish Gal went with the dry aged steak au poivre with a Courvoisier cognac cream and peppercorn sauce (around $38). We got mashed potatoes and asparagus as our side dishes (they are family style).
When push comes to shove, when I buy something that is $38, I want it to make me do the famous “this food tastes so good” dance in my seat (see: New York entry with Café Gray). However, this made me go, Mmm. Pretty good. Not the reaction I was looking for.
For dessert we ordered a piece of chocolate hazelnut cake that was so big it was overwhelming. While it was nice, it wasn’t anything that couldn’t have come out of a box from Shaws.
Capital Grille, to put it bluntly, is best for food enjoyers, not food lovers (because who could get excited about dessert options that are as run of the mill as key lime pie and cheesecake?). It is for someone who enjoys predictability—the same type of service, same grade of steak, same meat & potatoes combo. They can recognize quality food, but don’t like to be surprised by “foams” or “emulsions” or ingredients they can’t identify.
For those food lovers, Dish Gal says: travel on. . . and spend those hard-earned dineros on something that will blow your mind, not just your budget.