SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Capital Region has finally scored its first upmarket chain steakhouse.
Morton’s at the Saratoga Casino Hotel opened in June. Its muscular, sleek gray and black decor and swank atmosphere portend the tab; prices are dear but you won’t go away disappointed. This restaurant impresses.
Morton’s The Steakhouse
WHERE: Saratoga Casino Hotel, 342 Jefferson St., Saratoga Springs, 682-5999, www.mortons.com/
WHEN: 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
HOW MUCH: $171 for food, without tax and tip
MORE INFO: Credit Cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover. Accommodations made for children’s meals. Large parking lot, valet parking available. ADA compliant.
This location is a franchise owned by the hotel, operated in cooperation with Landry’s, Inc, a restaurant group that includes Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and Rain Forest Cafe, among others. It is the only domestic Morton’s franchise.
Reservations slots were available only for unfashionably early or late hours. Husband Eric and I chose 5 p.m. and arrived early, and after a tour of the cacophony and overstimulation of the Casino, nursed drinks at the serene, well-appointed bar and waited for our table.
Morton’s outsized reputation compensates for its size: a few dozen tables in the open-kitchen, white-linen dining room, with two smaller rooms for private events. Chandeliers glittered, as did the jewelry on prosperous-looking patrons. Our server deftly reset the table for two and left a hefty cocktail menu and a wine tome.
Our local Morton’s has a slightly abbreviated menu but will happily prepare anything available at another location, and they did, graciously. What you’ll find is prime meat and sumptuous seafood a la carte. So when you order your beef, lamb rack, veal or pork chop you get their signature onion boule with butter and grilled lemon and watercress garnish. Sides are extra ($13), extravagant and made to share.
There are appetizers, mostly seafood, and specialty entrees like grilled chicken Bianco ($28). The 8-ounce filet mignon is $48, a prime New York strip is $59, a few bucks more than you’d pay at Angelo Mazzone’s 677 Prime steakhouse.
My brother Bob, a regular at the Cleveland Morton’s with his own table under his photo on the wall, loves the prime ribeye ($49). He gave me a tip: if you like your steak medium rare, at Morton’s you order it “medium plus.” Our server described it as between medium and medium rare.
Oysters for openers
Eric started with a half-dozen Bluepoint oysters ($19), buttery, crumb-topped and seasoned with garlic. They were super-tender, and when he finished, said, “Boy, that was good.”
Bob recommended the shrimp Alexander appetizer ($20), four jumbo shrimp with buttery, juicy crumb filling. I overheard our server tell the party at next table, “When we say jumbo, we mean jumbo.” These are big, and they are delicious. I scraped all the sauce from the plate.
Our white wines finished, the server whisked crumbs from the table, changed out our flatware and asked when we would like our reds. With the steaks, we said, and they arrived at the moment the runners brought our plates.
Eric’s 16-ounce Cajun ribeye ($52), a thing of beauty, was lightly seasoned and topped with a bit of au jus. “It melts in your mouth,” he said of the juicy slab. He pointed out the marbling, which gives steak its flavor, and added it was extremely tender with delicious char.
Some steakhouses offer a larger ribeye for a lot less, but with clumps of fat and chewy bits. This compact, inch-thick, evenly marbled steak supplanted Eric’s last dream steak, from the former Montcalm in Lake George.
Superb mixed grill
My mixed grill ($55) featured a 6-ounce filet mignon, three simply presented jumbo shrimp in a buttery sauce and two bacon-wrapped sea scallops. The filet was tender with a visible grain, charred and cooked just like Eric’s — Morton’s medium plus is a perfect medium rare: pink, not purple interior, cool center, cooked through. It was heavenly.
The colossal shrimp were prepared simply, meaty with three or more bites each, and clear, thick, buttery sauce that trickled over to the beef, producing extraordinary results. The bacon-wrapped scallops were browned, cooked through and cut like butter, the bacon sweet and smoky.
The Parmesan and truffle matchstick fries ($13) were a lower-calorie side, which tells you everything you need to know about their sides, and the giant paper-lined cone was littered through with shaved cheese and chopped parsley and just a hint of truffle oil. They competed fiercely for our attention.
Key lime pie ($12.50) wrapped up the meal, with way too much dense whipped cream, a tangy filling and crumbly graham cracker crust. Delicious. We surrendered and took most of it home.
The tab for food, without drinks, came to a staggering $171.50. A meal here, for mere mortals, is for special occasions, important milestones, or when someone else is paying the tab like my brother, a generous and congenial host. You won’t be disappointed.
Come autumn, Morton’s truncated menu expands to full size, as will the wine list. It will offer more lower-priced options on both the Power Hour and Bar Bites menus. They’re available in the bar and a great way to try Morton’s without the big tab.
Morton’s is outstanding, up there with 677 Prime at the top of the Capital Region’s steakhouse list. While the locally owned restaurant is close to my heart, I’d never say no to dinner at Morton’s, especially when it’s on Bob.