5. Al Biernat’s

AlBiernats_2.jpg Al Biernet's Namesake Salad. Photography by Kevin Marple

Overall Score: 92.60

4217 Oak Lawn Ave.

Steak: Hands down the best filet I have ever been served. I ordered it medium rare and sliced it down the middle to find both sides the same warm red color from top to bottom. It had the mouth feel of sashimi. Scores: filet (14 oz., $45) 100, cowboy rib-eye (24 oz., $48) 98

Service: Most of the staff in the kitchen and on the floor have been with the restaurant for many years, and they work together like a well-oiled engine. Owner Al Biernat remembers every face and every name and so do most of the servers. Always professional and polished. 95 

Wine sell: The staff is well-versed in wine, and sommelier Todd Lincicome has put together a list with plenty of big reds that are not California Cabernets, so we were disappointed when our server steered us to a Nickel & Nickel Kelham Vineyard Cabernet 2006, marked down to $110 from $145. We settled for a glass of Bernardus Pinot Noir for $15. 85 

Shrimp: The long list of seafood possibilities on the appetizer menu made it difficult to stay on course. We passed up caviar, crab claws, and smoked salmon, but we were not disappointed by the three soft, pink shrimp that were meaty and had a bouncy texture. (U-10, $20) 94 

Salads: The list is not of the average upscale steakhouse variety. The crisp Caesar is decorated with a tasty sesame lavosh. The hearts of palm mixed with avocado, shrimp, and crab should be an entrée. 95

Vegetables: We asked for asparagus sautéed in garlic and olive oil. The garlic was undetectable. 90 

Potatoes: The mushroom risotto called to us, but, for comparison’s sake, we stuck with skillet fries. Next time we’re going for the risotto. 90 

Dessert: Best coconut cream pie in Dallas. Chocolate cake? Not so much. 99

Ambiance: Almost all steakhouses are noisy, but when Al’s is full, the volume in the dining room makes it hard to hear across the table. Request a booth on the side and enjoy the people-watching from a quieter post. Everybody who’s anybody is here. 80

6. Morton’s The Steakhouse

Mortons_2.jpg Morton's Brian Perry. Photography by Kevin Marple

Overall Score: 92.53

2222 McKinney Ave., Ste. 200.

Steak: Both steaks were about 2 inches thick, which made for a hearty rib-eye but a paltry filet. The latter comes with creamed spinach and salad. Scores: filet (12 oz., $48) 92, bone-in rib-eye (22 oz., $52) 97

Mortons_3.jpg Morton's kitchen. Photography by Kevin Marple

Service: Friendly, professional, well-trained—right down to the valet who introduced himself and shook our hand. You can feel the corporate training. The servers perform like synchronized swimmers. 96

Wine sell: Our server was clueless, but he immediately ran for the sommelier. He calculated our scenario rather quickly into a Parallele 45 Côtes du Rhône 2007. “It’s a third-run grape and is less expensive than other wines produced in that area,” he said. He took our $75 budget and turned it into a $50 bottle of grocery-store wine. 85

Shrimp: Three “colossal Thai shrimp” are normally served, but we, and the other tables we could see, received four. “Kitchen’s feeling generous,” said the server. (U-6-8, $20.50) 95

Salads: Choices are basic steakhouse standards, but their idea of a wedge is a “center-sliced” cut of iceberg topped with blue cheese crumbles, bacon, diced tomatoes, and hard-boiled egg. Pretty, but not as crunchy as I like. Beefsteak tomatoes in February were not the right choice. 80

Vegetables: Hurray for the creamed spinach. You could actually detect the earthy mineral taste of the greens under the thin cream sauce. We also enjoyed the sautéed small button mushrooms served in a beefy broth. 93

Potatoes: The Lyonnaise potatoes should come with a defibrillator. They are baked and sautéed in bacon grease with thinly sliced onions. 92

Dessert: The souffles might be Morton’s signature dessert, but we found the Grand Marnier version bland. We pushed it aside for “Morton’s legendary” hot chocolate cake with the hot fudge center and vanilla bean ice cream. 92

Ambiance: Morton’s has moved into some fancy digs in Uptown. The new interior is a throwback to the original Morton’s in Chicago but slightly more contemporary. Warm woods, exposed brick walls, and an open kitchen create a much sexier place for the power brokers in suits to hang. 93