I was lucky enough to recieve a $25 gift certificate to the Capital Grille recently. I've passed it a million times, while browsing at Z Gallerie, grabbing a latte at The Market or dining at Lime. I have to admit that the big cement lions outside sort of intimidated me. I never really figured I'd eat there. But hey... I'm not one to pass up free food.
After browsing their menu, I decided lunch would be the best option, as the prices are much lower. At dinner, that 25 bucks would have bought me like, a baked potato. So, I dragged my mom away from work and we stopped in early on a Tuesday afternoon. My first impression was not great. Don't get me wrong... the space is gorgeous. Dark woods, leather, giant paintings of horses and hunting dogs. Behind the hostess is a wall of lockers with name plaques beneath them (a veritable who's-who of Denver), containing what I assume to be frequent guests personal liquor bottles. What I didn't appreciate was a) being pushed out of the way by 'businessmen' in suits and b) feeling silly for not having a reservation at 11am on a Tuesday.
Regardless, we were sat in the lounge area near the bar (the only place you don't need a reservation for). The chairs were comfy and the atmosphere was calm. We were certainly the only people in the room not wearing suits, but the server/bartender still treated us very well. I've been to other similar establishments where you can just feel the service sizing you up. I didn't get any of that vibe here.
On to the most important thing, though: the food! Admittedly, we couldn't afford to run the gamut of appetizers, specialty drinks, desserts. Instead, I opted for what I thought would be a simple Ribeye Steak Sandwich. I should have known it wouldn't be your typical shaved-beef slices when our server asked how I'd like it cooked. What I got was an entire, beautiful, juicy ribeye steak on a warm, crusty roll. This gorgeous piece of meat was finished with caramelized onions and havarti cheese. Out of this world! It came with a side of homemade potato chips, which were a touch salty. (The best homemade chips are at Village Tavern, IMO.)
My mother chose the Parmesan Sourdough Club. This sandwich was massive, and differentiated itself from the traditional club with a smattering of prosciutto and a topping of coleslaw. Many of the diners around us were choosing the day's special- a spinach salad topped with hot, steaming steak bites.
I don't think a diner at Capital Grille could go wrong, from what I saw. Everything coming out of the kitchen looked delicious, and they clearly have a heavy amount of return visitors. It is very heavily-geared towards the urban businessman, but we were still made to feel comfortable. Valet parking was complimentary with validation- a huge plus on busy Larimer Square.