The new Hyatt Regency downtown, which bills itself as the largest hotel north of San Francisco, houses the fourth and largest Daniel’s Broiler. If you are a steak-loving local who hankers now and then for some USDA prime and an excellent dry martini, you probably are acquainted with The Schwartz Brothers’ flagship brand. Many have marked milestone life events or celebrated successful business deals at one Daniel’s Broiler or another: the nearly 40-year-old original at Leschi Marina; the 30-year-old Bellevue branch on the 21st floor of the Bank of America building; or the Lake Union outpost that turns 20 next year.
Time will tell whether this newest Daniel’s will become a magnet for locals, but its location guarantees it a more or less steady stream of out-of-towners. It is a big step up for the company — emphasis on big. At 14,000 square feet, it’s larger and more coolly contemporary in feel than any of its siblings. Because it’s a hotel restaurant, this Daniel’s serves breakfast (which I didn’t try), as well as lunch and dinner. Business fluctuates depending on occupancy of the hotel’s 1,260 rooms and it’s hard to predict on any given night whether to expect a full house or a practically empty one.
What is predictable is the food. If you’re looking for a menu with no surprises, this is your place. Each Daniel’s has virtually the same bill of fare; Leschi’s is shorter only because its kitchen is smaller. It’s a reassuringly familiar roster of mostly old-school steak and seafood classics. With a few exceptions, everything I tried was solidly executed.
You will not go wrong if you order a steak — though you may go broke. Prices start at $60 for a 12-ounce New York. I opted for the bone-in rib-eye ($79). Attached to one end of its very long bone was a gloriously charred, assertively seasoned, supremely juicy slab of prime beef. The Piedmontese filet mignon ($80) weighs in at a more petite 8 ounces. I highly recommend it if you prefer something less fatty. The muscular breed native to Northern Italy is valued for being extremely tender but also exceedingly lean. A small number of Certified Piedmontese cattle, descendants of pure-blood breeding stock, are raised in this country. Daniel’s has been serving it for about three years. I think its flavor and texture rival wagyu.
According to Daniel’s long-standing protocol, the waiter requests that you cut into your steak while she waits, then flashes a penlight on the interior so you can verify it is exactly the doneness you require. If not, back it goes to the kitchen. Mine were just right each time. (I wish convention extended to removing crumbs from the table before bringing dessert and removing desserts from the walk-in sooner. The cheesecake and chocolate espresso torte were very good but way too cold.)
The price of your steak includes impressively fluffy garlic mashed potatoes, or a hefty baked potato that you can embellish to your heart’s disconcertment with sour cream, bacon and chives because a caddy of those accompaniments is brought tableside. Other sides cost extra and are enough for two or four to share. A casserole of roasted corn creamy with Boursin cheese was a huge hit. Smoky mushrooms in a not-reduced-enough red-wine reduction were like eating soggy cigarette butts.
The kitchen finishes all steaks with butter, unless you ask them not to. I did not spring for the Oscar-style topping: asparagus, crab and Bearnaise sauce ($20), but every person in a party of eight nearby did, filling the air with the tantalizing aroma of butter and crab. I did sample all three sauces ($6 each). I’d give the pungent peppercorn-brandy sauce a slight edge over the Bearnaise, which was light on the tarragon. The Rogue Creamery blue-cheese sauce is the same thick, creamy dressing that adorns the wedge salad, where it seemed better suited to me.
I’d go with the wedge salad over the so-so Caesar, and I’d definitely consider starting with the Whiskey Dungeness Crab soup. The intense shellfish broth is spiked with sherry as well as Jim Beam, and when you trawl the bottom of the bowl you come up with spoonfuls of crab meat. Even more indulgent are oysters Rockefeller, topped with spinach and Gruyère under perfect hollandaise. Tiny popcorn shrimp are sweet, light and crispy; battered with cornstarch and egg white, they are also gluten-free. They come in a movie-style popcorn container — as trendy as things get here — with sriracha chili sauce and aioli for dipping.
“Steakhouse Scampi” ($40) are among the seafood entrees. Unlike the steaks, they merit a full regalia of starch and vegetables. The scampi’s five gorgeous jumbo prawns were a bit too firm for my taste — I like shrimp to have some snap. The broccolini was limp, but a simple lemon-garlic-wine sauce perked everything up, including the brown rice. Halibut ($47) was also more well-done than I prefer. A hard sear had produced a tough crust, but the fish was surrounded by some pleasant distractions: orzo, charred orange slices, fresh peas and pea vines.
Daniel’s restaurants all have a view. This one, on the hotel’s second floor, overlooks a pretty canopy of trees. While the approach by escalator from the lobby has all the charm of an airport concourse — and the bar, located just outside the restaurant’s entrance, could be adjacent to a boarding gate — the restaurant’s wood and leather interior is handsome, its vast acreage broken into smaller dining spaces. Waiters, in their black vests and gold neckties, are dressed more formally than the tables, only a few of which have cloths. Customers might dress up or down.
Schwartz Brothers Restaurants has operated more than 50 establishments since the company was founded in 1970 by Bill and John Schwartz. You might remember The Butcher, Benjamin’s, Henry’s off Broadway, Chandler’s Crabhouse, Spazzo, Cucina! Cucina! Italian Café and Cucina! Presto. A second generation of Schwartz brothers runs the company today, led by president and CEO Lindsey Schwartz. Schwartz Brothers Bakery and Brenner Bros. Bakery are also part of the fold, but restaurant-wise, they are betting it all on the Daniel’s Broiler concept. Two members of the next generation are currently bussing tables at the Bellevue Daniel’s. Bodes well for the future.
Daniel’s Broiler ★★½
Hyatt Regency Hotel
808 Howell St., Seattle
Hours: breakfast 6:30-10 a.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; lunch, 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Monday-Friday; dinner 4-10 p.m. daily; happy hour 3-6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close daily
Prices: $$$$ (appetizers/soups/salads $8-$22; steaks $60-$120; seafood and other dinner entrees $30-$130; vegan mains $18-$22; lunch sandwiches $14-$22)
Drinks: full bar; wine list heavy with reds from around the world in a wide price range
Credit cards: all major
Access: no obstacles