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August 1, 2007 / Tony

Dinner at McCormick and Shmicks

As Washington, D.C. is pretty close to the East Coast, I thought I could eat some fine fish while I was out there.  I started with some raw oysters with a sauvignon blanc (Cartlidge and Brown).  Here’s a picture:

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It was a sampler platter and I had the following varieties: Charleston Pond (Rhode Island), Cape May Salt (New Jersey), Wellfleet (I don’t know the origin), Pebble Beach (Washington), Mapleque (Prince Edward Island), and Blue Point (New York).  My favorite was the Mapleque.  It had a very mild and slightly salty taste as well as a very pleasant texture.  Some of the others, notably the Pebble Beach, had too much of a “fishy” taste and seemed just a tad from being absolutely fresh. 

For my entree, I had the Wahoo:

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I chose the entree because I had never eaten Wahoo before.  It is a fairly firm, white fleshed fish with a mild yet meaty flavor.  It was served with two very nicely breaded shrimp (perhaps the tastiest thing I ate during the whole meal), a fried(?) jalapeño that added nothing but color to the dish (I tried a bite, it was not spicy and had a mushy texture), some rice that was fine, some very nicely cooked asparagus and carrots, and a cumin-chili-lime sauce.  The sauce was pretty spicy and well-seasoned.  The fish itself was lightly coated with seasoning and cooked just under well-done with a very light char on it. 

I had a hard time deciding if I liked this meal or not.  Everything, I think, was technically perfect.  There was nothing I could point to where their cooking was done incorrectly.  Yet, I didn’t really enjoy what I ate.  It was like eating an algebraic equation.  It has logic and (perhaps) elegance in the thought behind it but is totally lacking in excitement and heart.  The food just wasn’t inspired; it was formula.  And I probably should have expected that.  After all, McCormick and Schmicks is a national chain and their goal is volume of food served above all else.  So recipes end up being blander and less exciting so as to let as many people as possible enjoy it. 

I don’t think I’ll ever go back to this particular chain.  (I refuse to make any silly promises like I won’t eat a chain restaurant again.  In fact, I am rather fond of The Cheesecake Factory.)  It was expensive and unexciting.  For the price I paid, I need to be wowed by food and not coddled by it.  Or rather, at that expense, I need to be taken to a place outside of my culinary universe where I can either learn or be awed by the creativity of the dish.  This restaurant couldn’t do it and so, I won’t be back. 

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