Grillside.jpg

What: Seared halibut stuffed with crab in herb sauce

Where: Grillside, 605 15th Ave. E., 726-1000

When: June 21, 6 p.m.

Cost: $18

Would I

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The Indian Ruth's Chris

Indian steakhouse fare on Capitol Hill

Grillside.jpg

What: Seared halibut stuffed with crab in herb sauce

Where: Grillside, 605 15th Ave. E., 726-1000

When: June 21, 6 p.m.

Cost: $18

Would I eat it again? Soon as my next paycheck arrives.

Official tasting notes: Chutneys Grille on the Hill(e) is a decent Indian restaurant, albeit one with too many rooms for too few patrons. So last year, the restaurant began soliciting its neighborhood regulars for opinions about a new direction. The regulars asked for a downtown-style steakhouse that they could walk to. Enter Grillside, an Indian steakhouse modeled after Ruth’s Chris. I take this to mean that rents in Capitol Hill are not going down anytime soon.

Borrowing an interior design tip from Marilyn Manson, Chutneys has painted the south side of its restaurant in a palette ranging from onyx to coal, with carpets, tablecloths, and barstools in ebony, soot, and starless night, respectively. Customers who dare to step inside this singularity find a dozen tables arranged around a bar and a few mirrored pillars. If they arrive on opening night, as we did, they would’ve also found the waiter, owner, and owner’s wife hovering expectantly around their table. Writing a review from an opening-night meal is a critical no-no, but I doubt the dish I was most enthusiastic about could be improved, so screw it.

Grillside meshes traditional American steakhouse fare with Indian preparations, meaning the menu includes pairings such as calamari with coriander-chickpea batter, an ahi tuna stack with mango chutney, and Cointreau-flamed prawns. The steaks are cut from 28-day-aged Black Angus beef, which has been marinated with ginger, garlic, herbs, and rock salt. Steaks come with the option of a Chettinad rub, named for the southern Indian region known for searing, aromatic cuisine. Even the lean sirloin bound for hamburgers is aged and mixed with shallots and ginger. “Quality-wise, it’s top of the line,” says chef Geogy Chacko.

The ginger provides a natural tenderizer for the meat, according to Chacko, and indeed, the burger we had was soft and luscious, if a little small for its bun. But it’s the fish I’ll be coming back for. The halibut was swimming in what appeared to be a yellow curry sauce, but it hit the tongue with a softer punch of saffron and cream. Dungeness crab meat and soft spinach topped out the richness factor, while cracked coriander and fenugreek knocked down the cream’s sweetness and provided ambrosial explosions of flavor. It’s decadent and, just as important for steakhouse fans, as filling as a brick of protein. The accompanying rice pilaf and the buttery zucchini-and-carrot medley carried not a single flaw. The fries, however, stood next to the halibut as equals: I don’t know what unnatural process Chacko put them through, but they remained as crisp as Pringles throughout the meal, refusing to devolve into the soggy snakes that are the second life of too many restaurant fries. And the reason they taste so good? A little dried-mango powder sprinkled on top.

 
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