My oh my: Expect hits, misses, grand-slam prime rib at F.X. McRory's
Special to the Seattle Times
Mariner mania is going to lure a lot of people south of King Street in the coming months, and F.X. McRory's is ready for them, make no mistake about it. Over the door hangs a baseball-shaped awning, and draped against the stately 1906 façade of the former Stewart and Holmes building is a banner that reads "My oh my. Go Mariners." Even the hours are extended when the team's in town.
If the Mariners had an official team restaurant, this could be it.
In the bar, where four TV sets deliver all sports all the time, baseball pennants threaten to obscure the famed Whiskey Bar, a magnificent display of spirits immortalized by LeRoy Neiman and notable for a stash of bourbon that is among the largest anywhere. Less attractive are the cracked and chipped marble-topped tables that, even if they are intentionally distressed antiques, are still in need of a good cleaning.
Mick McHugh's steak, chop and oyster house racks up runs, hits and errors in about equal measure. Star players include Roquefort-topped New York strip steak ($24.95) and chubby lamb chops in a wine-laced demi-glace ($24.95). Hitting the dining equivalent of a game-winning grand slam is the roasting box prime rib ($16.95/$18.95/$22.95 depending on the cut). Check it out as you wend your way to the dining room by way of the kitchen, where those thick slabs of slow-roasted beef are carved, weighed, then plated with ribbons of freshly grated creamed horseradish, lusty au jus and mashed potatoes as good as homemade.
Among the utility players on the roster at both lunch and dinner are fresh clams and mussels steamed in an engaging broth of butter, cream, vermouth, garlic and thyme ($9.45 lunch /$13.45 dinner), nicely grilled salmon sauced with garlic and lemon butter ($13.95 lunch/$18.95 dinner), magnificent fried onion rings ($6.45) and dense chowder smoky with bacon, sweet with red pepper and heavy with clams ($3.95 cup/$5.95 bowl). Anything served with the tangy, caper-and-herb-flecked house tartar sauce is a guaranteed base hit.
But the 22-ounce "cowboy chop" ($28.95), a rib steak that works your jaw like a wad of chewing tobacco, a stuffed pork chop ($18.95), which arrives dry and with little in the way of filling, and a 3-pound steamed Dungeness crab ($45), which tastes so tired no amount of drawn butter wakes it up, all strike out. As for crab cakes ($17.99), there's so much filler and so little crab they simply don't belong in a major-league game.
The mixed seafood platter ($15.95) swings but misses. Joining three freshly shucked, dewy-eyed oysters and half a sweet small crab on the mound of shaved ice are smoked salmon and mussels, both with the texture of a well-seasoned catcher's mitt, and too many flavor-free peel-and-eat shrimp that aren't worth the work.
If your eyes have been glued to the TV screen for nine long innings, during which you've emptied more than a few tall, frosty brews (there are 30 on tap at any given time), or if you're celebrating another Mariner victory by lighting up a Montecristo Churchill ($16) and downing a shot of 108-proof Wild Turkey Rare Breed ($6.50), you may not care that the ale-battered fried cod is overdone, the green beans are tough and the Caesar is soggy with dressing.
Everyone has their priorities. Suffice it to say that as long as they keep building stadiums across the street, F.X. McRory's won't be put on waivers any time soon.
Providence Cicero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.