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Shula's Steak House
Tyson's Corner Marriott Hotel
8028 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, VA 22182
Date of Visit: 10 February 2003
OVERALL EXPERIENCE (5 is Best)
The ChiefCowEater has stayed at the Tyson's Corner Marriott many times but never had the time to visit Shula's. On this business trip to the Washington, D.C. area I made it a point to visit the Coach.
Dark paneling, plush chairs, and Frank Sinatra's voice cascading from the ceiling, Don Shula's is a step back into the classic steak houses of yesterday. Created by the legendary football player and award-winning coach, photographs and memorabilia grace the walls and display cases throughout the restaurant. Keeping with the pro football theme, the menu is printed on an actual NFL football signed by the coach and brought to your table. (By the way, should you be so inspired, you may purchase the football-turned-menu for only $350.00!) Menu presentation also includes the tired Dead Cow Rolled To Your Table On A Cart show. I skipped the cart thing and ordered from the football. (I found out from listening to later menu presentations that in skipping the cart show, I also forfeited my chance to hear about the specials and other non-football-listed items.)
The coach serves only Certified Angus Beef from the Graham Family. But unlike some other steak-centric eateries, they have an abundant selection of non-cow menu items: A 3- to 5-pound Maine lobster, 16-ounce French cut chicken breast, Florida Snapper, Norwegian Salmon, and Maryland crab cakes.
I decided to stick to my budget and ordered their Beefsteak Tomatoes & Gorgonzola salad ($7.25) and the 16-ounch New York Strip ($30.95). They have a monstrous 48-ounch Porterhouse for $65.00, too. Diners who order this incredible piece of dead cow get their name inscribed on the restaurant's Web site. To get my palate in the mood, I asked the waiter if they had a listing of wines available by the glass. They did not. But he mentioned a few that were available and I selected the Trinchero Cabernet Sauvignon ($9.00).
The Trinchero Cabernet was delightful. I asked the waiter if he could bring me the bottle so I could see the label and write down some information. Several minutes later he picked up a bottle from a display behind one of the booths and brought it to me. It was a "1998 M. Trinchero Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon". I was surprised that they would have a 1998 vintage for only $9.00 per glass, but not being familiar with the Trinchero name, I said nothing and wrote down what I needed from the label. That night I researched the wine on the Web and found out that the Trinchero's are the folks behind the various Sutter Home offerings. I also noted that the "M. Trinchero" was their premium offering and sold for over $30.00 per bottle retail. The next night I visited Shula's bar (called the No Name Bar) to have some more of this great Cabernet. I found out that the wine that is actually poured is the "Trinchero Family" brand, 1999 vintage, and sells for around $12.00 retail. Not a good move on the part of the waiter!
Speaking of wine, Shula's does have a large selection of wines on their wine list. However, none were even close to being reasonably priced. For example, in my review of 555 East, I mentioned the 2000 Frog's Leap Merlot that retails for around $28.00 being sold at 555 East for $55.00. Well, that same wine is $77.00 on Shula's wine list! OK, I'm done with my obligatory rant on wine!
In summary: A nice meal. Meat excellent; the lettuce in the salad could have been fresher. And a very bad move on the waiter's part to show me the wrong wine bottle. As I always say, "If you can't do it right, don't do it at all!" (Note: One exception to that rule is this web site!)
Additional Visits: Made several more forays to Shula's in February and March, 2003. Enjoyed a great meal in March 2003 with Bob Carter, a former USS Forrestal shipmate now residing in Maryland. Bob and I enjoyed a delightful dinner, including a bottle of the REAL M. Trinchero 1998 signature cabernet sauvignon ($75.00). Most enjoyable. If you are in the Tyson's Corner area, you must stop in to the No Name Bar at Shula's for an attitude adjustment.
ALL RATINGS FOR SHULA'S STEAK HOUSE