The Capital Grille

Steakhouse
$$$$ ($25-$34)
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Editorial Review

Tom Sietsema wrote about the Capital Grille for a May 2010 First Bite column.

One of my guests surveys the 24-ounce porterhouse, the big red wine and a small mountain of shoestring fries set before him at the commodious new Capital Grille in Chevy Chase and sums up the landscape in four words: "Beef, booze, cardiac arrest."

Fortunately, my merry band of carnivores, including a habitue at the Washington branch of the steakhouse, stops short of experiencing the last half of his review. And before heading to the second-story dining room, we indulge in some of the Capital Grille's trademark hospitality in the ground-floor lounge, where cocktail orders are preceded by gratis San Pellegrino or Fiji water. The bar is lighted like a casino in Vegas; no matter the hour, the place feels like midnight. Maybe that's the point. Anytime is a good time for a Manhattan!

Launched in November in the Shops at Wisconsin Place, the Chevy Chase branch of this national steakhouse is a larger version of the one in Washington (240 seats vs. 170) and includes three private dining rooms. Otherwise, a meat eater can expect pretty much the same from the younger, open kitchen. The regular at my table insists we order a few dishes his way, and I'm glad we do. Creamed spinach, it turns out, is improved by lardons and a fried egg. And why should anyone have to choose between french fries and onion rings when both can be had by asking for "half and half"? I like the Capital Grille's staple of pan-fried calamari tossed with hot peppers. Mr. Regular asks the waiter to swap shrimp for the squid, and the empty plate that goes back to the kitchen suggests that the reconfigured appetizer has some fans.

The steaks will be grilled to your specification. But the porterhouse we share lacks the mineral tang of a great dry-aged steak, which this one purports to be. A rub of garlic and coffee (fear not, poor sleepers; it's decaf) make for a tastier 22-ounce Delmonico. Still, the entree I'm most impressed with is broiled swordfish. It's juicy from careful cooking and pleasantly shocked with a lemony shallot relish.

Thick monogrammed hand towels are a nice gesture in the restroom. This being a meat market, so is the option of toothpicks.