That Morton’s Facelift

Earlier this week, Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema gave a preliminary review of the newly renovated Morton’s in downtown D.C. It wasn’t good:

My experience at the podium is not unlike clearing security at the airport, with a herd of customers in the foyer waiting to be acknowledged. Where oh where is the maitre d’? Once you’re seated, it may take three tries to get the glass of wine you asked for, and entrees might land mere moments after appetizers have been set down.

“Want me to keep that warm for you?” a manager sorta-kinda apologizes for a server’s mistiming. Actually, even if the crab cake sandwich had been remade, it still would have been built with less-than-prime seafood and served with french fries that taste as if they’d started off frozen.

Honey-glazed salmon is too sweet; the filet mignon packing the recently introduced steak tacos is dry and vapid.

“Less-than-prime seafood”? Filet mignon tacos that are “dry and vapid”? Yikes. As I mentioned earlier, a now ex-staffer informed me that the steak is, in fact, different (but still prime). He also told me, “Don’t get the shrimp—it’s shit.” (Morton’s new owner Tilman Fertitta also runs Bubba Gump Shrimp.) Sietsema did enjoy the spinach salad, which is encouraging. On a recent visit, I ordered the Caesar salad and the crostini was stale—what’s wrong with old-fashioned croutons? I also agree that the service was haphazard—there was a lot of waiting between appetizers and entrées. Were the old waiters let go? There were many more new faces and the managers were expediting as fast as they could.

But whereas Sietsema wanted more change, I wanted less. I liked the dark-wood paneling and Sinatra playing on the speakers. Notice our Post critic has yet to mention the steak. I am wary about ordering one myself—it would be terribly disappointing if it were, well, disappointing. But no verdict is final until I get myself that cajun ribeye—assuming there still is one. Stay tuned.

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