By Carol Brock
777 Northern Blvd., Great Neck
Morton's of Chicago is in (in alphabetical order): Atlanta, Baltimore, Beverly Hills, Boca Raton, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Costa Mesa, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Hong Kong, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan, Scottsdale, Seattle, Singapore, St. Louis, Stamford, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C.
And now – Great Neck!
Morton's has settled comfortably along Northern's steak-house mile in Great Neck. A handsome brick edifice evolved with good-looking landscaping out front, It's set in the midst of a huge parking lot but is cordoned off so valet parking becomes standard procedure.
A small foyer gives way to a passage lined with personal liquor lockers, each identified in big, bold type. The main dining room (there are two smaller ones behind glass partitions) is plain, The razzle-dazzle is an open kitchen with four starched, white clad, toque blanched chefs efficiently turning out orders while the wait staff hovers in front. It's impressive and I couldn't get enough – it begs for TV coverage.
Another great photo-op is the presentation of the bill of fare. The 4-by-8-inch menu, printed on one side only, is not handed to you until a cart is wheeled beside your table displaying every vegetable and every piece of fish and meat that is offered that day. Each item is arranged on a plate with plastic wrap except for a docile, 3-pound lobster weighing in at $19.95 a pound.
From the fist-size, very red, ripe tomato to the double filet mignon, your wait person proceeds to display and name each individually, a performance that takes exactly three and one half minutes. (We secretly timed it.)
A bulging round of bread sits on the table. Our appetizers included shrimp Alexander – three superb shrimp (extra large, extra firm) with a dusting of seasoned crumbs and a soupcon of light sauce, each perched on a leaf of uncooked spinach. Very, very nice, and it comes entree-size as well. The broiled sea scallops wrapped in bacon with apricot chutney was a page out of a swank food magazine (the curl of the bacon around the scallop was rose like). The apricot chutney could use more clout. Lump crabmeat cocktail came with a tame mustard mayonnaise sauce.
We tried three of Morton's four salads: a good but not great Caesar, a sweet-sour spinach, and Morton's own with a terrific sounding, but so-so, chopped egg, anchovy, blue cheese dressing. In retrospect we should have had the sliced beef-steak tomato, purple onion, blue cheese.
Hail to Morton's for the great New York strip sirloin. It fulfills all your steak-house fantasies. The Sicilian veal chops with a coating of fine seasoned bread crumbs were delicious, and so was the Cajun ribeye steak, which is to be expected. The accompanying vegetables – the asparagus spears with stalks peeled down to the white and sauteed fresh spinach and mushrooms – deserves applause as does the accompanying Hollandaise. Greasy was our read on the potatoes; we three felt that Morton's was heavy on butter and cream.
Baked desserts are in the prologue performance. By all means try the individual upside-down apple pie. It's simple and packs they same kind of wallop as a good steak. We ordered a souffle for two (grand marnier, chocolate, lemon or raspberry). It was disappointing.
The wait person urged us to try the fresh berries with sabayon sauce. “That's the best part,” the server said, but its texture and taste were more whipped cream than foamy Zabione. Coffee is served in a cup sans steak-house persona.
At entree time, the maitre d' had asked, “Is everything cooked to perfection?” Yes to the steak, the asparagus and apple pie. Most definitely.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Newest addition to Northern's steakhouse mile in Great Neck. Impressive exterior. Chefs on view filling orders. Presentation by your waiter, before ordering, of both fresh meats and produce.
Shrimp Alexander, Sauce Beurre
Blanc (also available as
Broiled Sea Scallops, wrapped in
bacon, Apricot Chutney…$12.95
Double Filet Mignon, Sauce
Porterhouse Steak (24 ounces)…$33.95
New York Strip Sirloin (20
Whole Baked Main Lobster…Market
Setting: Impressive exterior
Service: Butcher apron
Hours: Dinner 7 days
Location: Northern Boulevard E of
Lakeville/Middle Neck Road
Credit cards: All major
Off-premises catering: No
Private parties: From 10 to 200 in
Noise level: Quiet early, noisier later
Handicapped accessible: Yes