Steak Out

Meating the Competition on Ponce and the Mile

With the exception of Italian restaurants, few kinds of eating establishments are more prolific in Coral Gables than steakhouses. There is now Christy’s, Fleming’s, Ruth’s Chris and Perry’s, followed by Argentine meat-eateries like Graziano’s. And then there is Morton’s, the Texas-based national steak chain.

For starters, Morton’s has the advantage of location, situated at ground zero for downtown Coral Gables – the intersection of Miracle Mile and Ponce de Leon Boulevard. It is also inside the historic Colonnade building, where it enjoys a steakhouse rarity: outdoor seating. Yes, Perry’s has a courtyard in the Shops at Merrick Park, but this is seating under colonnades, a café society setting on people-watching Ponce.

Steak Out in Coral Gables Steakhouses
Morton’s Chef Tony Gaspar

With the advent of the virus, the outdoor seating has expanded, while indoor seating has been reduced for social distancing. Outside there are now 15 tables compared to a dozen inside, so now is the time to take advantage of eating al fresco while the weather is still pleasant in the evenings. “We’re at 50 percent capacity inside, but we actually added tables on the outside,” says Assistant General Manager Adam Moreira.

Of course, Morton’s location would be meaningless if they did not serve top notch steaks. And theirs are stunning. Rather than the dry-aging technique used by other steakhouses, Morton’s wet-ages their steaks. That means the meat is vacuum sealed in plastic so that no moisture escapes while it ages – unlike dry aging, which exposes the surface to the air. “All of our cuts age for about three weeks,” says Moreira. “With wet aging there is less of a gamey taste, and it tenderizes the meat.” 

Angus Prime Flank Steak with chimichurri and corn

Then comes Morton’s dry rubs on the meat, followed by six minutes at a temperature of 1,800 degrees. “We never cook it at a lower heat,” says Chef Tony Gaspar. “You need that to sear in the flavor.” The result is a stunningly succulent cut of beef.

For my money, the New York Strip steak at Morton’s may be the best I have ever tasted. Other members of our party preferred the more marbled ribeye, but I didn’t think the extra fat was needed. The wet-aging process made the strip juicy enough, with a robust flavor. And, like all their cuts, the steak is served with your choice of flavored butters. We favored the truffle-infused.

Prime New York strip steak

Of course, Morton’s does a lot more than cook steaks. Their appetizers run the gamut of steakhouse seafoods, from a colossal crab meat cocktail to baked escargot. Our waiter Angel recommended the bacon wrapped sea scallops, and they were a toothsome combination of perfectly cooked scallops with a salty crust. We also tried the miso-marinated sea bass, which had a light, sweet glaze. Just right.

At the time we dined at Morton’s, they still had a reduced post-COVID menu. This included a limited selection of four wines, their “bottle shock” collection at $99 a bottle. We picked the Stags’ Leap cab from Napa, and it was excellent. And the rest of the menu, though limited, had just what we wanted: the core traditional foods of a steakhouse, like lobster bisque, Caesar salad and wedge salad, jumbo shrimp cocktails and jumbo baked potatoes. They also do a stand-out lobster macaroni and cheese, and their creamed spinach tastes like my grandmother made it.

Lobster mac and cheese

“People are kind of ordering the basics,” Angel told us. “Even in the cocktails. Martinis and margaritas. Nothing fancy. Sort of like it’s good to be back.”

And, like a good steakhouse, Morton’s also serves those comfortable, reliable desserts, like key lime pie and New York cheesecake. Angel recommended, however, Morton’s “Legendary” Hot Chocolate Cake. The experience was – wait for it – legendary. A hot lava of melted chocolate emerging from the body of the chocolate cake, itself topped with whole strawberries and confectioner’s sugar, paired with a ball of vanilla ice cream. That, plus a traditional Sambuca night cap, finished a fine meal in a fine setting. Welcome back.

Morton’s legendary hot chocolate cake

Morton’s the Steakhouse
2333 Ponce de Leon Blvd.