Sullivan's Steakhouse in downtown Seattle sports a broad-ranging menu, a lot of special promotions and a friendly, attentive staff.
Is the arrival of another steakhouse in downtown Seattle a sign of economic optimism or is it, like multiple marriages, a triumph of hope over experience?
Sullivan’s Steakhouse opened last June at Sixth and Union where Union Square Grill flourished for two decades, and its successor, Lost Lady Cantina, barely lasted two months. Texas-based Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group operates 20 Sullivan’s around the country, mostly in medium-sized or smaller metro areas. Their attraction to this area is interesting, given that we have several highly regarded, long-established local steakhouses, plus branches of Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris and The Capital Grille.
In the steakhouse universe, Sullivan’s positions itself as midpriced and approachable. So did Fleming’s, which didn’t succeed here, but then Fleming’s didn’t sit next to the convention center.
For those who lamented the abrupt demise of Union Square Grill in February 2009, happy days would seem to be here again. So are The Suits swirling red wine in large-bowled stemware, sipping martinis or slicing into $44 porterhouses. You’ll see T-shirts, too, of course, though they tend to congregate in the lively lounge munching “cheese-
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steak egg rolls” and Shanghai calamari at a row of high tables that parallel the bar.
Beyond this cocktail corridor are three somber dining areas where tables, like the servers, wear black. The ambience suggests a luxuriously furnished bank vault, albeit one with a glass-enclosed wine cellar housing hundreds of bottles, many from distinctive Washington vineyards.
The staff specializes in bonhomie. “Are you having a fabulous week?” a hostess asked in greeting. Our charming waiter wondered if we were catching a show. Told no, he responded, “Then we’ll be your dinner AND entertainment.” A manager approached our very cushy booth and knelt on one knee like a man about to propose. “I heard it’s your first time here,” he said. “Please let me know if there’s anything I can personally do to make your visit more enjoyable.”
No, my cover wasn’t blown. My guest, a woman unaccustomed to extravagant dining, melted like Gorgonzola-garlic butter on a sizzling New York strip.
The steaks are Midwestern corn-and-grain-fed USDA high-choice beef (the grade just below prime) aged for 28 days. One day’s New York strip had great flavor and was precisely medium-rare; one night’s filet mignon sported a lopsided sear and was far more rare than medium.
There are as many seafood options as meat. A special of Hawaiian spearfish fillet was impressive under a cucumber salsa jazzed with mint, jalapeño, cilantro and fresh lime.
The not-inconsequential price of your dinner entree includes a choice of salads. I bypassed the Caesar in favor of a chilled iceberg wedge lavished with exceptional blue-cheese dressing.
Consider spending a few extra dollars for the classic bacon-accented spinach salad. (A crabmeat Louis salad on the lunch menu was light and lovely, but the dressing lacked the Louis’ characteristic chili punch.)
Three dollars buys your steak a flavored butter or a sauce. The finely tuned béarnaise and the well- balanced bourbon-peppercorn blend were true enhancements. For sheer indulgent pleasure, opt for the “Oscar” pairing, a $10 topper of béarnaise, fresh asparagus spears and lump crabmeat.
Ten bucks at lunch buys a sandwich of dry chicken breast on pretzel bread. You’d do better for the same price with Sully’s meatloaf, heaped with sautéed peppers and mushrooms, mounted on horseradish mashed potatoes and moistened with potent Bordelaise. The meatloaf itself was softly textured and robustly flavored with blue cheese and quite a bit of thyme. (Someone in the kitchen deserved a thyme-out that day as the herb also overwhelmed the seafood chowder.)
The new kid on the block is vying hard for your business with various special offers, including Tuesday night wine tastings and a $19 weekday “Business Lunch” that’s a steal for a two-course meal starring a 6-ounce filet mignon.
Theater ticket-holders who reserve before 6 p.m. can take advantage of the $35 three-course “Spotlight Menu.” Sunday’s multicourse “Prime Time” promotion offers a choice of several steaks, seafood, chicken or prime rib for $32.
A deal like that just could be the start of a fabulous week.
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