love loved Morton’s Steakhouse. Widely considered as a reliable venue for the finest dining experience in Singapore, I dreamt about its good hunky American steaks for years now. Until last Saturday. Since then I have been wondering constantly: whatever happened to the steakhouse? How did it get so bad?
Prior to my visit last Saturday, I have been to Morton’s twice. Once to celebrate my birthday dinner in 2009. It was such a good dinner. I still keep the personalized menu. So when a friend suggested Morton’s, I jumped at the chance and reserved online for a 8.30pm table. Then I looked forward to satisfy my mad craving for steak with Mac & Cheese.
Morton’s went through massive renovations last year. Gone are the days when it resembled a dark underground steakhouse that is just so American (read point 1.) Instead the restaurant has gone mod with black and silver accents and handsome chandeliers. It is also a lot more spacious and no space was left wasted. There were a lot more tables close to each other i.e. very very noisy and forget privacy! Remember the days when they will roll up a trolley with the cuts of the meat to point out the difference? Well, there is no space for it now. It may have been a lot of show but at least I would have known what a New York Strip was. I still don’t.
(PS: Couple looking at their respective phones while waiting for their food – a common sight in Singapore.)
Now let’s delve into the food… The complimentary huge Shallot Bun was ever present.
Then we began with the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. Anticipating some power meat, this was the only appetizer we shared. On hindsight, this single piece of crab cake turned out to be the highlight of the evening. Consisted of almost nothing but crabmeat, this was a pleasure to eat. The crabmeat tasted fresh and were slightly sweet. Loved it! But would I return just for this crab cake? No. It cost $40++(!) You bet I savoured my half very very slowly…
For my main course, I went for a medium rare Center-Cut Prime Ribeye – the mammoth steak arrived looking so blistered and dreamy. The smokiness smelt so inviting. I waited all day for this so naturally I attacked with a vengeance! Except in return I got a massive jaw work out. The perfectly-pink steak was so so tough! My jaw still ached the next morning. And a true mark of poor execution: uneven seasoning. On first bite, I was hit by massive dose of salt. So I turned the plate and it was well-seasoned on the other side…
But something wasn’t right here. I tried to recall the last rib-eye adventure I had and whether it was as difficult to eat. Couldn’t. The steak was a lot of hard work. Tough and I need the soft fat to “lighten it”. In the end, I gave up and doggy-bagged half of it home. It is still sitting in my fridge if anyone so endeavours.
The highly anticipated Bacon & Onion Macaroni & Cheese was, in reality, Bacon-less Macaroni & Blue Cheese. It was at Morton’s where I first discovered and fell swiftly in love with the classic American comfort carb. To the point that years ago when I heard they briefly removed it off the menu, I nearly cried out. So when it arrived pipping hot, I reached for it even before my steak.
To my dismay, the very thick stodgy fusilli rigati concoction tasted of nothing but blue cheese. My mouth tasted like a smoky barrel the entire time. How revolting. Thankfully the pasta was al dente and I do not mind blue cheese. But I did not order Mac & Blue Cheese. And where was the salty bits of bacon? Where was taste of other cheeses?
I looked forward to dessert as soon as I ended my steak debacle. A platter of their chilled desserts were presented to us. However it was hard to forget their two hot desserts even though they were not presented: Souffle and Chocolate Molten Cake were seen on almost every table. Instead we stuck to the chilled ones: New York Cheesecake and Double Chocolate Mousse. Their desserts fared better than the savouries. The New York Cheesecake arrived with a beautiful crème brulee crusty top that was so unbelievably addictive. With fresh fruits and cream on the side, it cut the heaviness of the cheese and prevented a cheesecake-coma.
While the Double Chocolate Mousse was a choco-holic dream, it was a huge portion that got monotonous quickly. It lacked an acidic or crunchy element. If it possessed either, I would have cleaned this out squarely.
As Amateur Gourmet put it:
If someone takes your picture at the end of the meal, you should radiate warmth and good cheer…
It would be hard to take a pretty picture of me at the end of dinner… Within me, I was stewing with disappointment.
I did leave the restaurant on a jolly note thanks to the attentive service and a big bun for my doggy! However if you had to rely on service and desserts to keep going, you will be in trouble. Morton’s, buck up.