Morton’s – Georgetown

From the Steakhouses Dining Guide, October 2003

If there was anything more disheartening than the wan exterior of the double porterhouse served at the Connecticut Avenue Morton's, it was the tableside carving: Rather than slicing the strip and the filet and placing the meat in overlapping slices on their respective sides of the bone, the manager separated the two pieces of meat from the bone, cut each into two chunks, and plopped them on the diners' plates. This is no way to treat this costly slab of beef, which was no more tender than a good supermarket steak and yielded no trace of dry-aged flavor.

A porterhouse for one sampled several weeks later at the Georgetown branch of Morton's was similarly disappointing: Unlike those precisely cut bone-in triangles of prime beef that long exemplified Morton's signature steak, this was a curiously gnarled piece of meat for the $34.95 asking price. With a slightly rubbery strip side and a dry, underflavored filet, its texture reflected its outward appearance, which was as beige as the double porterhouse at Connecticut and L. What has happened to the wonderful charred exterior that was the hallmark of Morton's porterhouses?

Morton's house salad–ribbons of romaine heavily coated with a creamy bleu-cheese dressing, scattered with chopped hard-boiled egg, and topped with a pair of crossed anchovy filets–would be more enjoyable were not served at such a frigid temperature. The Caesar salad, served just as cold, is just as dull.

The house version of hash-brown potatoes is golden mass of crunchy potato shreds reminiscent of a French straw-potato pancake. Depending on when you get it–it is made ahead of serving and kept warm–it can be either quite good or rather stale. The mashed potatoes can be improved at table by adding a great deal of butter. The kitchen's rendition of creamed spinach honors this steakhouse classic.

Although Morton's wine list lacks the depth of those at the Prime Rib, Sam & Harry's, and Smith & Wollensky, it offers a serviceable collection of familiar labels from California and abroad.