Saturday, November 04, 2006

Review: McCormick & Schmicks

McCormick and Schmicks was my backup restaurant during my trip to California in September. I was staying right by one, so if I couldn't find anywhere else I really wanted to eat, I was pretty certain I could find a halfway decent meal there. It wasn't a first tier choice because the chain has an outpost in Denver, and I figured I would eventually have a chance to try them out there.

The chance came sooner rather than later, as the Denver location turned out to be about a block from the hotel we were staying at for a convention. I figured it was fate, so we dropped by a bit on the later side Friday night.

McCormick and Schmicks specializes in seafood, and their one page novel of a menu reflects that. The fresh selections are listed at the top; all can be prepared fairly simply. But many of them also feature in the long list of dishes listed below. This is why the website only provides sample menus; what's available depends on what they have fresh.

It took me a long time to read over the menu, even when I was only going into the details of the dishes that sounded interesting. Fortunately they serve bread in the meantime, a half loaf of sourdough each time. I miss sourdough bread; it's othe standard restaurant bread in the San Francisco Bay Area, but out here it's hard to find.

We ordered an appetizer listed as "Kobe Beef Potstickers" right away. I somehow doubt it was Kobe beef, unless it was made up from trimmings from other pieces served elsewhere on the menu (if I read the non-seafood part of the menu, I don't remember it). But the potstickers were good, nice and crisp, even if they were a bit pricey at about $11.00 for five.

I ended up ordering the Cashew Crusted Tilapia from San Jose, Costa Rica, with hot rum butter. The menu didn't mention it, but it was also served with asparagus and rice. My first impression was "this portion is HUGE", and it was - at least twice the size I expected. It was cooked to well done - not overcooked, but cooked slightly further than is the fashion with fish these days. I appreciated that, even if others would consider it a negative, because I like my fish cooked all the way through.

The cashew crust was plentiful and crisp, the hot rum butter just slightly sweet, working well with the nuts. It wasn't an extraordinary dish, but it was good.

My husband ordered the etouffee, another generous portion tasting throughout of the andouille sausage. The shrimp were small but plentiful, as was the chicken. It came served with rice.

The dessert tray was no exception when it came to portion size - we'd each thought about ordering our own dessert until we saw them and realized neither of us had any chance against them. We decided on the chocolate bag filled with white chocolate mousse and berries.

The chocolate in the bag was surprisingly good, not the flavorless, waxy stuff many chocolate sculptures are made of. I'm not a huge fan of white chocolate mousse because most renditions don't taste like much; this was an exception, absolutely delicious. Even the blackberries and raspberries were tender and sweet instead of the hard sourballs most are.

Service was slow and not particularly on the ball. While our server kept our water glasses full, we had the distinct impression she wasn't all that interested in our table. This was borne out when the desserts were described to the next table; we heard about several specials that our server never mentioned.

Overall, McCormick and Schmicks made a reasonably positive impression on me. I enjoyed my meal and would not be averse to dining there again, but I don't think I'd make a special trip to Denver just to eat there.

(Date of visit: October 27, 2006)


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