A Capital Idea

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When Ned Grace opened his first Capital Grille in Providence R.I., in 1990, his goal was to have a presence in every capital city. The successful chain now boasts 49 restaurants nationwide.

Not one to shy away from the competition, Capital Grille boldly planted its newest namesake right across the street from Ruth’s Chris in downtown last May. Forget about Burger Wars; this could shape up to be a sirloin steak smackdown.

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Fort Worth residents are notably passionate about their red meat, so to paraphrase the lyric from New York, New York, “If you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere.” Most locals are devoted to one particular steakhouse or another. But with the new Capital Grille in town, the rest of our great steakhouses may need to stay on their toes. We had a great experience on the night we visited, which is exactly the kind of thing that wins a loyal clientele.

The starters were amazing. The Wagyu Beef Carpaccio ($15) was sliced razor thin and fanned around a mound of peppery arugula salad with a hint of wasabi horseradish in the lemony dressing, then topped with fresh Parmesan shavings. The beef had very little marbling and still had a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. Likewise, the signature appetizer of Pan Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers ($13) was a crowd pleaser. The light and crispy calamari were served golden brown, with a mixture of spicy peppers, adding layers of flavor and a welcome zing to the dish. Finally, the Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella with Vine Ripe Tomatoes ($15) was a winner. This hand-pulled mozzarella was delicate and gooey, infused with the salty flavor of its sautéed, crispy prosciutto wrapping. A drizzle of aged balsamic, tomatoes and a chiffonade of basil put on the finishing touches.

We sampled steaks and lamb chops that could easily feed a family; they have very generous portions here. You will not go home underfed. The Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin ($44) was one of the best preparations at the table. The coffee-rubbed sirloin was imparted with a unique flavor from the Kona coffee grounds still visible on top. The Shallot Butter sauce was actually rich and creamy, and better than we anticipated. The Porcini Rubbed Delmonico cut Ribeye was also delicious ($49). Billed as one the signature steaks, it was first rubbed with a delicate dusting of porcini mushrooms. But, unlike what we expected, there was no actual mushroom crust on this steak. An interesting aged balsamic was added at plating, offering up both acidic and fruity notes to the dish. Both steaks packed extra flavor from being grilled with the bone in.

One final steak selection was the Dry Aged Steak au Poivre ($44) (all steaks are purveyed by Premium U.S. Cattle and dry aged in-house). The tender sirloin was flavored with a spicy black peppercorn topping, and the spice was tempered by a delicate Courvoisier Cream sauce. My other personal favorite was the Double Cut Lamb Rib Chops ($42). Again, a huge serving. These four fantastic rib chops were simply grilled and stacked high. It was described to us as “Austral-American” lamb, being born in America and then raised in Australia. We didn’t really care where it came from. We were just glad it found its way to our dinner plate, and we will definitely return for more of the same.

All sides are large enough to share with a table of four. The French Green Beans with Shallots and Heirloom Tomato ($10) were lightly sautéed and served al dente. The Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese ($16), while not a large portion, was rich and creamy with nice chunks of lobster meat throughout.

Amazingly, our table of four found room to sample a decadent dessert as well. The Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake ($9) was smooth and rich, with bitter cocoa dusting the top of the wedge, and the plate was decorated with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and mint. This chocolate indulgence would be worth stopping in for all by itself.

The interior formula has remained true to form across the chain. You will be greeted by an abundance of rich, dark woods and wine-colored walls, all with a heavy masculine nod. The portraits are familiar in each location, but if you look closely, you will see that they were commissioned especially for Fort Worth and feature local celebrities in many styles of art. The floor plan is broken up into separate rooms, adding to the cozy club atmosphere.