Raising a newborn is a 24/7 task. So when my husband and I finally get a few hours alone, we decide to treat ourselves to a lunch date at Raleigh’s The Capital Grille.
Raleigh’s location of The Capital Grille is located on the bottom floor of the new Bank of America tower in North Hills. There’s a Bank of America ATM located outside the doors and, trust me, you might want to hit it up before you enter the upscale steakhouse.
Inside the North Hills tower, there’s another glass tower–of wine that is. It is the first thing that greets you as you walk inside, towering stacks of private wine lockers emblazoned with the names of their owners, a visual emblem of the elite and of the corporate bigwigs in the area. And, as you might expect, John Kane, the big man on the North Hills campus, has a prominent locker that’s front and center.
The blue hairs are out in force at lunch time in The Capital Grille, dressed in cashmere turtlenecks layered with bauble necklaces on top, gossiping as tan-jacketed waiters swirl around the dimly lit dining room catering to each table’s whims and wishes. A fully-suited manager canvasses the room and makes sure expectations are being met.
Our server, Douglas, greets us cheerfully as we are sit down in a booth next to the glass-encased kitchen. He inquires if we are familiar with The Capital Grille and we respond that, indeed, we have previously visited the Fort Lauderdale location of the flagship restaurant in Darden Restaurant’s fleet of chains that–gasp!–include Olive Garden.
What follows is what you might expect from an upscale steakhouse chain catering to old-school sensibilities: an extensive wine list (regrettably a skip for me since I’m still nursing) and a menu that revolves around steak. The bread service is decent, though for the price of most entrees, I think to myself that I have had a much better assortment at a lower caliber restaurant as I slather on butter to the semi-moist roll picked from the basket.
For those abstaining from alcohol, the housemade grapefruit soda served with a citrus wedge and mint leaf is a bright spot and certainly a refreshing beverage for the middle of the day. As a lunch starter, the tuna tartare works as a nice palate cleanser. It’s serviceable, though it’s a largely conventional version, served atop a bed of creamy avocado and surrounded by several decorative dots of sriracha.
The mini tenderloin sandwich is regrettably not as good as anticipated. One chunk of the tenderloin in the slider is overcooked and becomes sinewy and more of chore to chew. The pallid field greens salad is forgettable, seemingly tossed straight from out of a plastic bag, and the cone of thicker parmesan truffle fries are what you might expect from an upscale eatery–aromatic and crispy, sprinkled with liberal shower of parmesan cheese.
Instead of the mini tenderloin sandwiches, the ribeye steak sandwich is a much better and more opulent choice. The steak is where The Capital Grille excels and it showcases its strengths in the lunch ribeye sandwich. The meat is tender, juicy and it melds well with the oozing, melted cheese sandwiched between a split length of crunchy bread. The portion is more than sizable for a midday meal.
For a shade over one hundred dollars for lunch (tip and tax included), lunch at The Capital Grille without dessert and only one alcoholic beverage, is certainly a splurge without the employer footing the bill. The service, at the price tag, is more than acquiescing and exceedingly accommodating which makes the restaurant a natural choice for a special occasion outing. Otherwise, the offerings beyond steak seem far less inspired, insipid and not worth the extravagant cost.
Though, for a few hours away from caring for an infant, the few and precious carefree hours may just be priceless.
THE CAPITAL GRILLE | 4242 Six Forks Road Raleigh NC 27609 | 919.787.3901