Seeing as March is Philadelphia Steak Month, we were drawn to Morton’s The Steakhouse, 1411 Walnut St. In honor of the month, the upscale altar of red meat is offering prix-fixe steak and seafood specials for two: Morton’s signature three-course menu ($99) and classic combo ($79).
The plan going in was to try the signature three-course. The classic combo offers a similar meal, minus the dessert course and featuring a center-cut iceberg wedge salad, single filet or single New York strip steak and a seafood choice of either cold-water lobster tail or king crab legs.
Whatever you do, do not call it surf ’n’ turf. For some reason, the folks at Morton’s don’t like that.
Any dining experience here begins with a cart being wheeled up to your table with freshly cut examples of the various steaks on offer, along with a behemoth lobster in case you’re prone to an impulse buy. If we had a jeweler’s glass on hand, we might have given the meat a closer inspection, but we were impressed with the mobile display.
Then the specialties of the house were explained in expert detail, at which point we began to fantasize about venturing beyond the confines of the three-course menu. The gigantic lobster tempted us, but we stuck with the game plan and ordered the special.
The first course consisted of a Caesar or center-cut iceberg wedge salad, a nice way to kick off the meal with fresh ingredients and just the right amount of dressing.
The second course consisted of either New York strip or filet mignon accompanied by a choice of broiled sea scallops, shrimp Alexander or a crab cake. The steaks were good-quality and cooked well enough, especially the filet mignon, which benefited greatly from the accompanying Béarnaise sauce. But the red meat was almost completely overshadowed by the excellence of the seafood that came along for the ride. The shrimp Alexander featured massive shrimp cooked perfectly: tender on the inside with a lovely crunch on the outside. The sea scallops were thick, wrapped in bacon and just as perfectly cooked as the shrimp. As good as the steaks were, we would have happily sacrificed them for more of the shrimp and scallops.
The third course offered a choice of desserts. The hot-chocolate cake, baked fresh with a center of molten chocolate, was rich and decadent. The key-lime pie and the crème brûlée didn’t have the star power of the chocolate cake, but were of the quality one would expect from a place that wheeled a cart of after-dinner liqueurs and coffees up to the table as we were finishing.
Granted, everything on Morton’s menu is à la carte and high-end (don’t blame us if you have sticker shock), but that’s what you pay for a nice steak dinner that doesn’t involve a blooming onion as an appetizer. That being said, the service at Morton’s is top-notch from beginning to end. It’s the closest any of us will ever get to having a personal servant waiting on our every beck and call and cleaning up after us. If the service were any more attentive, someone would be throwing rose petals at our feet wherever we walked.
For more information, visit www.mortons.com.