Special thanks to Carrie for attending this event at Morton’s in Houston!
First, let me begin by saying that I had had a beef with Morton’s. (Yes, pun intended.) Several years ago my mom took us to Morton’s Galleria location for a special dinner. Unfortunately, we left disappointed. The food was mediocre, the ambiance lacking, and the service indifferent. Sad, given the fairly hefty price tag that accompanied our meal. Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to attend the preview party of the newly remodeled Morton’s Downtown, I was apprehensive. Happily, my experience couldn’t have been more different from the first.
The recently remodeled interior is beautiful. It is sleek, elegant, sexy and feels very “downtown.” The renovated bar area has gorgeous pendant lights that complement the huge chandeliers providing soft but sufficient light throughout. There’s nothing worse than not being able to see what you’re eating! The décor is sophisticated and simple, leaving the food to speak for itself.
Ah, the food. Morton’s new look accompanies a new menu. 18 items have been added, including some of the items I sampled. I ate so much it’s hard to know where to start…so let’s dig in! I began at the carving station featuring tender, juicy beef tenderloin served with a bourbon peppercorn sauce and a subtle but flavorful whipped horseradish. YUM! We were off to a great start! Next up…a trio of sliders. The delicious pulled pork sliders were seasoned with cumin and unexpectedly topped with avocado and pico de gallo, giving them great textural components. The braised beef short rib slider was also amazingly tender, allowing you to sink your teeth in without pulling the entire piece of meat out of the bun. The beef tenderloin slider with horseradish sauce was tasty, but not quite as exceptional as the others.
Needing to move from the indulgence of meats, I hit the amazing Ahi tuna tartare topped with avocado, pico and Thai cream sauce served on wonton crisps. I had to actually walk away from the table to prevent myself from stuffing my face with these little gems. And, although I was told that shrimp cocktail is passé, I’m a fan and Morton’s did it flawlessly. Huge shrimp cooked to perfection and served with a tasty traditional sauce.
After my brief stint with the surf, it was back to the turf with beef tartare crostini topped with fresh pesto and shaved Parmesan. It was an amazing mix of textures and flavors. Just as I was ready to thrown in the meat towel, I was told that I had to try the lamb chops, of which I am generally not a fan and thus was going to skip. But, anything for the sake of food writing, right? These little treats started to win me over the minute I saw them. The beautiful sear was evident and the love continued with my first bite. Juicy, tender and full of flavor on their own, these chops were a home run when paired with a delicately flavorful mint jelly. What a surprise hit!
Possibly as exceptional as the food was the service. Despite a full dining room and another large party in the private room, platters were always full of fresh food, empty plates were quickly removed from tables, and there was always a knowledgeable staff member available to answer any food questions. As I glanced at the tables in the dining room, I noticed the same service. Impressive.
My only disappointment from the evening came in the form of dessert, although this may be my fault for choosing a key lime pie bite over the big, honkin’ piece of cheesecake. The crust had a sandy texture and there was little more than a whisper of lime taste in the filling. Others standing at my table raved about the cheesecake, so maybe the dessert disappointment was merely bad decision making. But, my sweet sorrow continued when I broke into my gift bag at 2 am and found a cookie that was clearly burned on the bottom. Had it not been over-baked, it would have been fantastic, boasting large chunks of chocolate, macadamia nuts and coconut. But, really…if you burn the cookies, just ditch the gift bags!
Despite the desserts, Morton’s definitely won me over. The fantastic food and impeccable service in that stunning new dining room made for a wonderful experience. I will surely be back, even if I have to get my dessert fix at home!
*This tasting was complimentary. Opinions are solely those of the writer.