By Greg B and Charlie R. Spring is in full swing now. Tree pollen is driving people nuts across the state, the birds are out singing in the early morning light and uber fresh vegetables are making their yearly appearance at farmer’s markets. As you may recall, the Capital Grille instituted a rotating seasonal lunch menu, with a 3 course series of food and the goal of feeding you a very tasty meal, at an affordable price, at a quick pace to allow you to hop in, dine, and get back to work. This past winter, I (Greg B) sampled some of their great menu options. But now that spring is here, they’re back at it, changing up the menu to reflect the season. So join Charlie and Greg as they explore the menu!
The first thing to jump out at us was the asparagus soup – it was an immediate ‘must have – mostly since Charlie makes one helluva asparagus soup (you can always take the time to learn and improve your own recipes by tasting those of others!). As we contemplated the dinner, we also contemplated a business lunch. Would we order a glass of wine, or beer? I think the choice is obvious: beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with wine or wine at lunch, but imagining someone on the go, who may need to have a quick business lunch among colleagues, what are they going to enjoy with their meal? Certainly no robust, hearty and lip-staining red wine, a pint of IPA or pilsner will do quite nicely in pairing with the food items on the menu for spring time. So, a Dale’s Pale Ale and a Loose Canon were ordered, and indeed, sipped and enjoyed through the whole meal. But what of the meal?
Asparagus soup – Had a great silky smooth texture and was a vibrant pea-colored green. Amazingly, it was not thickened with cream, though that is damn near impossible to tell. It had great depth of flavor and yet retained it’s straightforward asparagus note. Excellent.
Clam Chowder – I went with a holdover from the previous lunch menu, and was not disappointed. Was greeted by a creamy yet still firmly liquidy chowder that had an incredibly fresh briny clam flavor that puts a lot of the New England clam chowders I’ve had before to shame (Sorry Boston). Light yet filling, packed with flavor!
Shrimp and Piquillo Peppers with Crisp Bomba Rice – This is the entree that takes the cake! While there are three main options, and the tenderloin sandwiches are great (little bit of horseradish and cream? yum!) and the lobster roll is a light but super fresh option as well (tons of lobster!), this shrimp piquillo pepper dish really is the winner. The shrimp are super tasty, great shrimp flavor in the dish all around, to be honest. The rice is cooked like a paella meets risotto style, and the whole dish is more of a ‘shrimp n’ grits’ type meal, but definitely for adults. It is well portioned, so if you’re very hungry, go for this option. We did think that it could benefit from a hit of citrus zest, but that’s less of a flavor defect and more of a way to ‘lighten’ the dish a little bit. But like I said, if you’re hungry, this is the dish for you!
As always with the lunch menu, you have your choice of sides. We had to go for the truffle fries, one of my long-time favorite sides to get at the Capital Grille and always a pleasure to eat. But for a slightly healthier and lighter option, we tried the seasonally new ‘Grilled Spring Vegetable‘ mix, a good assortment of squash and peppers and vegetables, nicely grilled to provide the light caramelization of vegetable sugars with just the right amount of grill and smoke flavor. This works as as a great side dish to compliment any of the meals above. Their simple and moist preparation is a welcome addition to the plate.
Honestly (and maybe this is a sign that we’re getting old…I hope not!) Charlie and I left full by eating this lunch menu at dinner time. That’s great news for such an inexpensive meal option at such a great restaurant. So this spring when you’re out looking for lunch, don’t think “Capital Grille = heavy steak and potatoes meals”, think ‘Capital Grille = varied menu that has quick, well priced and great lunch options’ as well!
**Necessary Disclosure** In compliance FTC Guidelines at 16 CFR Part 255, I hereby disclose that we received this meal free of charge**