My husband and I got married in a small seminary just outside of West Philadelphia, and had our reception at Morton’s Steakhouse downtown. We reserved their private boardroom for the event, which was small at less than 45 people, and we treated everyone to an amazing steak dinner. It was a lovely, memorable evening, and many people tell us to this day it was one of the classiest weddings they’ve ever been to. ?
Morton’s had been our favorite steakhouse for a very long time. We first discovered it on a trip to Seattle. We asked the concierge in our hotel for a steakhouse recommendation, not thinking for a single second that he’d send us, a couple of young 20-somethings, to a fancy ass steakhouse. But that’s exactly what he did. And we felt horribly underdressed (though looking back, we were probably just fine), and thankful we weren’t totally broke and had money to cover the meal, but we did joke about the fact that he sent us to this restaurant not even warning us of the prices!
And so began our love affair with steakhouses. We loved Morton’s so much that yes, like I said, we had our wedding reception there. We would go every year after on our anniversary, and the staff got to know us – especially this one incredibly friendly hostess who always remembered our names and gave us a beautiful booth and black napkins for my black dresses. (Ever put a white cloth napkin on a black dress? No bueno.) One year we went when I was about 5-6 months pregnant, and the next year we had the same waiter, and he remembered us, and he asked me how everything went with the delivery.
It is *really* hard to beat service like that! REALLY hard. To find a place “where everybody knows your name” – but Morton’s did it so well.
And then…. then Landry’s bought Morton’s. And things started changing. First it was the music. They took away the classic Sinatra-style music and replaced it with some kind of ambient soft techno. Then it was the decor. Gone were the beautiful big booths. Gone were the little piggy lamps. The menu cart. And then the menu changed – which wouldn’t have been a terrible thing, except for the fact that the quality of the food seemed to change too. The steaks weren’t cooked as well. The cuts weren’t as good. The bearnaise sauce was oily and separated on more than one occasion. And then our favorite hostess left, and then our favorite waiters, and very slowly, one by one, we started to lose reasons to return.
This wasn’t supposed to be a sad story, but it is meant to be an homage to the original Morton’s, which had some version of these sauteed mushrooms on their menu, that my husband loved. I managed to find myself a Morton’s cookbook once, and I have held more tightly onto it now that we no longer go to Morton’s. The recipe for these mushrooms was not in that book, but I found a similar recipe somewheres on the interwebz and I tweaked it till it was just like the side dish he’d get at Morton’s. And now I share it with you, because I don’t think you can find it on their menu anymore anyway!
And if you’re in the Philadelphia area, head on over to Barclay Prime and spend your hard-earned cash there. Hands-down, it’s our favorite place; don’t even try anywhere else. Service is amazing (not quite as familial as Morton’s was, but I doubt you’ll get that anywhere these days), and I have never once been disappointed with the food. They are even nice to kids there, which I appreciate so much. They are never pretentious with children in their restaurant, and anyway kids won’t grow up knowing how to act in a steakhouse unless you take them once in awhile.
In the meantime, next time you’re whipping up a steak, whip up a batch of these mushrooms too, and you’ll be set. ?
About a pound, pound and a half of mixed gourmet mushrooms (baby portabellas, crimini, shiitake, chanterelle, and oysters)* (see note)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced fine
1 shallot, minced fine
Salt & ground white pepper to taste
Melt butter in a large high-walled skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add parsley, garlic, and shallots, and saute for about 1 minute. Add all mushrooms and stir, continuously, cooking for several minutes more, until they reach your desired level of doneness. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Taste for doneness, and continue to cook if needed.
My store sells a “gourmet mushroom blend” that’s 6oz total of mixed sliced crimini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms. I buy two of those packages, plus one 8oz package of sliced baby portabellas, for 20oz total of mushrooms.