It's not often I am disappointed at a restaurant when the final bill comes to close to $500.00, but..... Years ago, on my wife's birthday, which she shares with a close friend, we were so anxious to eat at a Mortons to enjoy great steak that we drove 3 hours to Seattle from Vancouver, dined, and returned. At the time I remember enjoying the meal, but always wondered about being charged extra for a potato, or mushrooms, after paying $50-$65 for the meat. But, I digress!
So it was that this year my wife expressed her desire to eat at our local Mortons, but keep in mind, it isn't for lack of funds that we haven't returned to Mortons over the years, rather it is that Vancouver has so many fine dining restaurants at very resonable prices that we never felt the need to eat over priced meat.
Our valet at Mortons on November 28, 2008, was a very cheerful young man (good sign), but as we entered the front door, the patrons that were leaving were unimpressionably shabby (bad sign)! First impressions matter and to say that the foyer of this particular Mortons was drab would be an understatement (also a bad sign)! Who knew it was a taste of what would greet us in the main dining room?
Let me be polite about this, the decor of Mortons of Vancouver's main dining room would do a Greyhound bus terminal proud! Wow, white walls, no art, white table cloths, ordinary chairs, and all the tables lined up to maximize profitability and minimize ambience (bad sign)!
After being seated I reviewed the wine list and enquired about the absence of some notable local wines which are readily available at other fine dining establishments around town. I was told that, since Mortons was "corporate" by its nature, it wasn't practical to order good wines that might not be available all of the time, so Mortons chooses to list only wines that are offered in abundance by its supp;iers (bad sign).
On to the dinner...to begin let me say the service was abysmally slow, even during the ritual Presentation of the Meat, there just didn't seem to be any excitement instilled by the waitress, like we were just another bunch of customers that were going to order meat. And speaking of meat, my wife and I settled on the Chicago Style Rib Eye (bone in), something I have been meaning to eat again since the heavenly rib eye served at Aqua in SF by chef Minos, for the same price by the way. We were very careful to ask the waitress how we could expect their chef to cook a medium-rare steak. Would med-rare be bloody in the middle or rare? We agreed on medium-rare plus, assured by the waitress that the steak "would not be raw in the middle".
To my dismaym after an interminnably long wait for our meals to arrive, as I made the first cut into my rib-eye, it was completely raw in the middle! In addition, it wasn't accompanied by any sauce, not even a demi-glace. My wife mentioned that on the menu it indicated I would have to pay more for a sauce! Back goes the steak to the kitchen (bad sign)!
My understanding of restaurant protocol is that if I return a steak (one that costs $55) it shouldn't simply be put in the microwave, it should be tossed and a new steak should be cooked. Aparently Mortons doesn't subscribe to that protocol (bad sign)!
To make a long winded story palatable (pun intended), no one enjoyed their food. Basically Mortons is a steak production house, not fine dining. It is a boring place to eat, service is slow and uninspiring, and the food is over priced and bland (bad signs, all of them)!
In a city like Vancouver where fine dining is the norm, Mortons is simply not sophisticated enough for our culinary tastes, better suited to the unappreciative tastes (or lack thereof) of the young with money who simply want to brag about the size of their meat, in a city where it is the motion of the ocean that matters!