It is the middle of summer and people are away on vacation. If you are a Dallas steakhouse, how do you fill the tables? Answer, do a promotional special. Several Dallas restaurants have taken up the challenge (this is actually a great time of year to eat steak!) but one of the best is The Generous Pour currently taking place at all locations of The Capital Grille every evening of the week through August 31st. I was a guest at a recent media event at The Capital Grille where they explained it.
The idea is simple. For a flat $25 per person you get to try up to seven specially selected wines with the meal that you purchase from the regular menu. You can try a sample of all seven, then refill with the ones you like best, or just stick to one or two. The staff are not stingy with the pours (hence the name of the promotion!) and you can go back and forth trying different wines with different menu items. It is this experimentation that is the most fun thing about the event.
The wine quality is respectable too. They are chosen by Capital Grille Wine Director, George Miliotes, MS and are proudly served in Riedel stemware. This year, the theme is Oregon and California (all the wines are supplied by Kendall-Jackson Estates). The three whites, going from light to rich, are a Riesling, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay. The four reds, going from light to heavy, are a Pinot Noir, a Merlot, a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Among the whites, I was particularly impressed with the 2012 Byron Chardonnay from the Santa Barbara region of California’s central coast. This is a Chardonnay in the classic rich, lush California style. It exudes French oak and the buttery notes in the nose and creamy flavors in the mouth that indicate it went through a malolactic fermentation (a secondary fermentation in which tart malic acid is converted to softer lactic acid). The oaky notes are confirmed on the palate atop a substantial mouthfeel and medium length finish.
My favorite red was the Merlot, a 2011 Freemark Abbey from Napa Valley. It had blueberry aromas plus hints of French oak in the nose and an opulent fruit-forward structure in the mouth, all punctuated by pin-cushiony tannins that contributed its chewy texture. Our waiter, Felipe, reported that this wine was proving popular with a lot of customers participating in this event. Maybe Merlot is finally recovering from the body blow it took from its treatment in the movie Sideways (10 years old this year)? I wonder if the film has aged better than 2004 California Merlot?
[IMG_4464.JPG. Caption: The reds. 2012 La Crema Pinot Noir from Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley. 2012 Freemark Abbey Merlot from Napa Valley, 2011 Arrowood “Catchwire” red blend from Sonoma and 2012 Kendall-Jackson “Winemaker Selection” from Sonoma]
That said, all of the reds are likable. If you order a fatty steak (e.g. ribeye), the greenness of the Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2012 Kendall-Jackson “Winemaker Selection” from Sonoma that is specific to Capital Grille and this event, is a great match as the fat and salt cuts the lively tannins in this young wine.
To our Delmonico steak (a ribeye with the bone in) we added sides of roasted wild mushrooms (crimini, porcini and oyster mushrooms) and lobster mac and cheese which contributed earthy heartiness, in the first case, and creamy sweetness in the second.
Our final indulgence was a shared coconut cream pie that was exactly the sweet ending we wanted. Incidentally, ask for a glass of the Kendall Jackson late harvest Chardonnay with this. It is an unusual and pleasant wine that is sweet enough to stand up to the dessert without being cloying.
It’s a fun and instructive time. The Generous Pour is at all locations of The Capital Grille. Locally these are in Uptown Dallas, Plano and Fort Worth.