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April 21, 2011

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Morton's - another word for steak

RICH meaty flavor, strong fatty aroma and tender and juicy texture - these are the qualities of a good steak.

Dining on steak in restaurants is costly, so many steak lovers grill steak at home. They buy high-quality beef and strictly follow directions.

But the result, somehow, doesn't compare with steak house fare.

Morton's of Chicago, a new fine dining steak house in Shanghai, delivers not only superb steak with excellent service, but also value for money.

The 32-year-old American eatery with branches throughout the US has attracted celebrities like former US President Bill Clinton, Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, golfer Tiger Woods, action star Jackie Chan and Canadian singer Celine Dion, among others.

Kitchen secret

The secret of a perfect steak lies first in selection of prime beef. All the beef served at Morton's in Shanghai is imported from one farm in Queensland, Australia.

According to Mandy Ning, the marketing manager, the cattle are fed on the farm, getting plenty of fresh air, sunshine and clean water. Hence, the beef contains the perfect proportion of fat to lean meat; the flavor is rich and layered.

Singaporean executive chef Corwin Leong has 12 years experience in cooking steak and knows that each cut - fillet, rib-eye, prime rib, T-bone, sirlon and others - has its distinctive texture and flavor that is brought out with different techniques.

The oven for roasting and grilling is crucial. If the temperature inside rises quickly, the cooking time is shortened, thus the moisture in the meat is locked in. The meat remains juicy.

The restaurant offers five peppercorn cognac cream sauce (25 yuan/US$3.82), but I recommend enjoying the steak without sauce, sprinkling a little salt and pepper to highlight the flavor of the beef.

Considerate service

Morton's is not the only restaurant serving steak and all cuts of beef, but it's one of the few providing prompt, meticulous service in food and wine orders.

Here, ordering does not begin with the menu but a food trolley, which is also known as Morton's "show and tell" trolley, showing off various beef cuts and vegetables.

The quality and freshness of the beef and vegetables are evident. Then waiters discuss the cuts in detail, for example, which are the most tender, which contain the most marbling. Then, it's cooked exactly to customers' request.

Red wine is commonly considered the perfect accompaniment to steak, as its taste and aroma enhance the meat's flavor and clear the palate. A somelier describes the wines and advises on pairing; around 250 wines, red and white, are displayed.

Fresh seafood is also on offer, including fish, scallops, shrimp and crab, which call for white wine.

Morton's also offers special personalized services for special occasions, including audio-visual presentations. Ning said she helped set the scene for a guest who proposed marriage over dinner.

"When we know the dining moment is important or commemorative, we will prepare in advance, decorate the table, bake a cake, provide a card and use our audio-visual technology to create atmosphere."

Valuable price

The most popular cuts are Single Cut Filet Mignon (240g) 530 yuan; New York Strip Steak (550g) 625 yuan; and Bone-in Rib-eye Steak (650g) 695 yuan. Some steaks come in slightly smaller portions for diners with smaller appetites.

The lunch selection is especially good value. The 188-yuan, two course "prime lunch" includes a soup or salad for starters and a selection of main courses, including the signature Morton's Prime Burger. Steak lovers can choose the 288-yuan lunch set including Grilled Rib-eye Steak and mashed potatoes.

Morton's doesn't only serve steak and seafood. The beverages are memorable. "Mortini Night" is every weekday night from 5pm-7pm in the bar area. There are not only basic martinis, but also the sinful Chocolate MORtini, the sexy Appletini, the sophisticated Cosmopolitan MORtini. From Monday to Friday from 5pm-7pm, one MORtini, together with Morton's Petite Steak Sandwich costs only 38 yuan.

Address: Shop 15-16, 4/F, Shanghai IFC Mall, 8 Century Ave, Pudong

Tel: 6075-8888


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