Photo by Andrew James Executive chef Todd Mark Miller
Photo by Anthony Mair Little Big Royales
We’ve just sunk down into our lavish, semicircular leather booth at SHe by Morton’s, a nightlife-inspired restaurant that is the second incarnation of the space originally home to Beso, when a basket of rolls brushed with cloyingly sweet honey-cinnamon butter arrives.
“There’s sugar in this bread!” a friend exclaims in mock horror. The music from an adjacent DJ booth, occupied by a female DJ, suddenly swells, rendering his next observation inaudible. It’s also irrelevant; this place isn’t targeting our generation, the baby boomers. Looking for a quiet dinner? Forget it.
Yes, that’s a runway snaking smack down the middle of this dark, clubby room, punctuated by rows of amber chandeliers, hanging crystal beads, and art-deco-looking room dividers of sharply angled brushed metal separating the dining room from its panoramic windows. I didn’t come on an evening when models walk this runway, but I can only imagine.
It’s all but assumed that SHe’s diners will probably head upstairs to the restaurant’s nightclub for post-prandial revelry. Yet somehow, it feels quite corporate in here. Maybe it’s because the restaurant now belongs to Landry’s, the giant chain that has Claim Jumper, Chart House and dozens of others under its huge umbrella. A sign on the door tells us we’re entering SHe by Morton’s, a steakhouse chain that has also been swallowed up by Landry’s.
The kitchen, which still has an 1,800-degree vertical broiler installed for Beso, puts out a retooled steakhouse menu originally created by chef Todd Mark Miller, although now in the capable hands of chef Eric Stecher. And Eva Longoria is still involved, only today as a limited partner.
Overall, the operation feels slick and self-assured, the servers clad in black and white, with their bow ties are undone, their shirt collars unbuttoned—very Clooney-esque.
As you’d expect from a large corporate restaurant, there are a number of things to eat on a menu that leave little to chance. Chopped salad comes close to being pleasurable thanks to ingredients such as bacon, pecans and bleu cheese, but just misses the mark because of an overly tart dressing. Baked oysters (six Malpeques) are topped with crème fraîche and tiny dollops of black caviar— tasty, but pusillanimous at $24.
I prefer the crusty little crab-cake minis and sliders called Little Big Royales, but I’d avoid the shrimp tempura, which doesn’t need all that extra sauce. If cold shellfish is your thing, there is a large selection of cocktails, tartares and similar items.
Steaks come in “She-cuts,” “He-cuts” and “We-cuts,” and as one might guess, the weight (and price) increases with each category—a cute idea. (Did I forget to mention that this steakhouse is geared toward women?) But I was slightly disappointed with my steak, a He-cut 16-ounce prime strip ($48). Although the meat was properly beefy and flavorful, it didn’t come with the char I requested.
I was more impressed by the soy-laquered salmon, a nicely sautéed, crisp-edged chunk, looking comfortable on a bed of Puy lentils, the fish topped with crabmeat and bell-shaped red and yellow tomato. Among a fleet of commendable sides, it’s hard to fault the excellent creamed corn, served in a stainless steel pan, or spears of perfectly cooked asparagus.
A few desserts cater to feminine sensibility—heck, the dessert menu itself sports a tiny mirror with which ladies might inspect their maquillage—including a little box of house-made chocolates, and something called Goodnight Kisses: brown-sugar meringue kisses of various size and shape, paired with cake roulade infused with banana-flavored cream.
Next time I dine here, anyway, I’m bringing earplugs.