Our anniversary was June 1st, but Sarah worked from 8am — 9pm, so we figured we’d do something special a couple days earlier. We’d never visited McCormick & Schmick’s, but we’ll definitely return. The food and service were outstanding.

We were seated immediately (it was 5:45pm on a Saturday), Sarah and I were given menus (which change daily based on fresh catch availability), and Jonathan was given a kid’s menu. We were also given a basket of excellent bread, a crusty-but-soft white sourdough. Their menu unfortunately does not have a beer list, but our server knew the available beers and I ordered a Great Lakes Dortmunder($5.75). It tasted as good as it usually does at the brewery.

After spending quite a while mulling over all of the entrée choices–which included many interesting scallop, whitefish and rare tuna preparations–Sarah ordered the surf and turf with king crab legs and filet mignon ($28.95). I just ordered the king crab legs ($24.95), which were listed as being from one of the ships featured on The Deadliest Catch. Jonathan wanted chicken fingers and fries ($4.95), despite some prodding from me to order fish and chips.

My dish came with a salad. I chose the house, which had mixed greens (including mesculin and frisee) with candied walnuts, blue cheese and a balsamic viniagrette. Sarah ordered a Caesar salad ($5.95). Both were fresh and flavorful with the perfect amount of dressing tossed in.

After a wait of less than ten minutes, we got our entrees. The crab legs were perfect. They were partially cut to make shelling easy, and were warm and tender. I never finish crab legs because some kind of fishy element tends to get to me after a while; this wasn’t the case with these. I pulled out every last shred of meat from the shell, and it didn’t even need much butter because of its already buttery consistency. Sarah’s beef tenderloin was excellent, medium rare as ordered, and nicely seared. Her mashed potatoes were also rich and flavorful (Jonathan had a little and kept asking for more). The other sides–my corn and potatoes, Sarah’s chopped vegetables–were good but unremarkable, clearly playing second fiddle to the entrees. Jonathan’s chicken fingers were above average, though, batter-fried and light.

Jonathan’s meal came with ice cream and Sarah’s with Crème Brulee. Sarah said she didn’t like Crème Brulee, so I offered to take hers and have her order a separate dessert. Our waitress brought out a tempting tray that included flourless chocolate cake, upside down apple pie and a dessert trio. Sarah ordered the server-recommended carrot cake ($7.95).

Our desserts came quickly, and I insisted Sarah try some of the Crème Brulee in exchange for my taking it. It was served in a large, shallow ramekin to maximize the carmelization area. Sarah enjoyed it and had no idea why she had previously not liked Crème Brulee. It was my favorite of the three desserts. Sarah also really liked her carrot cake, and Jonathan polished off his sundae.

The only downside of our visit (we had to think on this one) was the easy listening jazz in the background; this is not something you’d find at most trendy local restaurants. But why focus on the music when the food is this good?

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  • http://www.benjacat.blogspot.com ds

    Never underestimate the importance of the vibe restaurant music creates. I would say it can make or break a dining experience. No joke.

  • http://www.heightseats.com Ben

    The music wasn’t horrible, and it wasn’t at an obnoxious volume. The first “real” job I ever had was as a busboy, and I swear that the music–“You’re So Vain” was one of the more upbeat songs–made the job harder and the restaurant worse. I eventually was fired for being too slow, which I blame entirely on the music. The restaurant went out of business a few months later.

    Vine and Bean has great music, which definitely adds a lot to the vibe. And Bricco’s music is surprisingly good for what would appear to be a somewhat conservative establishment.

  • http://bitebuff.blogspot.com/ Bite Buff

    Even though it is a chain, McCormick & Schmick’s is one of those places that doesn’t feel like it. I agree that thier ever-changing menu based on the fresh catch of the day is great. I’ve been there four times, and although some visits were better than others, they are consistently good. Very inventive with the fish dishes for those willing to try!