Capital Grille has over 50 locations in a mini-empire that spans the United States. The very first of which opened its doors in Providence, Rhode Island back in 1990. Capital Grille first expanded down the eastern seaboard into Boston, New York and Washington D.C., before heading west.
The Capital Grille has become well known both for their nationwide presence and their nicely dry-aged steaks. They also dabble in fresh seafood and a have a formidable wine list. You know it MUST be fancy when an ‘e’ is added to “Grille” – a surefire indicator of upscale steaks. However, it was the burger which attracted my attention during a recent business trip to Dallas/Fort Worth.It’s always hard to tear yourself away from selecting a dry-aged ribeye when one presents itself. And Capital Grille certainly knows how to prepare excellent steaks. But, as I’ve done before at Hawksmoor and Gaucho, I made a lunch stop – eating outdoors in a t-shirt in the sunshine – which always puts one in more of a burger mood. I’m sure I’ll come across another Capital Grille in some yet-to-be-determined city on a yet-to-be-scheduled business trip in the future and then I can steak out all I want.
Dallas’s Capital Grille is located in Uptown, tucked into a posh little mix-used development called The Crescent. The location and the steakhouse were basically made for one another. Not wanting to tempt my steak-loving-fates too much, I actually didn’t even set foot inside the restaurant. We found a nicely appointed table in the courtyard area surrounded by upscale boutiques and desperate housewives and along with my three other colleagues, each ordered the exact same thing:
THE GRILLE’S SIGNATURE CHEESEBURGER – A meaty blend of chopped sirloin, smoked bacon and sweet onions. The delicious patty is basically encased in a melted cheese hood and then topped with onion, tomato, pickles and lettuce – all of which appear to have been prepared for a television commercial, they’re so damn perfect. In fact, in many aspects, the burger was almost disconcertingly perfect… too perfect.
The burger itself was a perfect cross section of beef-cylinder, yet somehow had the perfect density, consistency, flavour and bite. Could some beef-magician have formed this by hand? The veggie toppings (or should I say accoutrements – at a place like this) were both visually perfect and perfectly fresh – snapping like an old advert for Classic pickles.
It’s almost like you have to worry for the veggies that didn’t make the beauty-cut. What happened to those wrongly-sized lettuce leaves? Or the small parts of the tomato?? The bun was topped with a few onion strings and was somewhere between a traditional burger bun and brioche style, with a touch of sweetness.
The whole thing was cooked a nice medium and the bun absorbency-to-juiciness ratio was dead on. That’s what I meant when I said it was almost too perfect. It looked and felt like a machine-made object, ready for the camera and lights to come on and the film to roll. Yet, it was just an amazing burger, ticking all the boxes. And for $18 with some garlic fries, didn’t hit the wallet too hard either.
With a cold soda to hand, the whole thing only set us back around $25 a head altogether, which is a great deal in my opinion. The clean white linens and china, plus prompt and comprehensive service, still make you feel like you’re having a $50 steak – but you’re in fact enjoying some open-air and sunshine with a great burger.
The steaks and seafood do, by the way, run in the $45-55 range generally. Capital Grille has everything from NY strips and porterhouse steaks to filet mignon. Their steaks are good, and if you’re looking for that upscale steakhouse experience, then Capital Grille is a very safe bet. Their quality appears to be uniform across locations (I’ve been to several in the DC area too) so you pretty much know what you’re going to get.
Still, I didn’t expect such a cosmetically good-looking burger as the one that I was served. I’m impressed. Should I be in the market for a posh burger in the US anytime soon, I will give them another try and perhaps go for one of their other – even fancier burgers like:
- KONA CRUSTED WAGYU BURGER WITH SHALLOT MAYO
- WAGYU CHEESEBURGER WITH FRIED EGG AND CRISP ONIONS
- GORGONZOLA AND BLACK TRUFFLE WAGYU BURGER
All sound delicious, all must be a spectacle to behold.