Restaurant Ipsa Loquitor: Fleming’s

by Adriene L. Harwill, Pro Se Restaurant Critic

Fleming_s

After a rocky start, Fleming’s, located in West Hartford, debuted a new menu that raised the steakhouse-dining standard of care to new heights.

Sadly, the chilled seafood tower disappointed. Good wine elevates quality ingredients and reveals poor ones. The shrimp was partially grey and mealy. The attractive heaps of crab legs and lobster tail floated high above the table in a metal stand. I had to strain to see it, much less to eat it. However, judging a steakhouse on seafood is practically negligence per se. Next was a salad tossed in a whole grain mustard vinaigrette, topped with crisp pork belly, and paired with a delicious white burgundy by Olivier Leflaive of Meursault. Chef Christian Schunmann achieved a brilliant balance with delicate slivers of red onion, fennel, and orange, providing the perfect foil for the pork. It is a testament to the composition of the salad that the burgundy was a welcome but unnecessary addition. The salad is not yet officially on the menu, but I hope that it will be soon.

A new option is a dry-aged steak, which has a more robust and nuttier flavor than the common wet-aged steak. Many people disdain steakhouses, thinking that anybody can cook a steak. They need to try three of Fleming’s Steak Companions: truffle poached lobster with caviar, king crab in herb butter with caviar, and a charming sweet onion bacon jam. These toppings complemented but did not compete with the steak.

Flemings

Too often a steak topping masks the meat. This was the case with the Diablo Shrimp. The excessive spice made the steak superfluous and overwhelmed my palate. The Round Pond Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon paired beautifully with the steak, crab, and lobster but could not hold up to the Diablo Shrimp. Potatoes au gratin, asparagus, and cipollini onions, much like the leather upholstery and dark wood paneling but better tasting, made the place feel like a great steakhouse.

Fans of marshmallows should try the Cappuccino S’more – decadent and well done with homemade marshmallow covering a graham cracker coated chocolate lava cake. I found myself mining eagerly through the sticky mire to reach the thick pool of chocolate beneath. Like the salad, you might have to ask for this one if it has not been officially added to the menu.

Finally, Fleming’s has introduced the “Wine Pad”. The iPad wine-list lets you easily browse their extensive selection, but replacing a human sommelier with an iPad would almost certainly breach the standard of care people expect when visiting a restaurant with prime steaks, real linens, and delicate stemware.

Go to Fleming’s for a great meal when you miraculously get an A in Civil Procedure, pass the Bar, or land that summer associate position. If you want to be a trial lawyer and are feeling aggressive, go for the Old Vine Zinfandel “Predator” and the tableside carved bone-in “Tomahawk” steak, but save the $985 bottle from Harlan Estate for when you are elected to the senate, made partner, or raised to the bench. If there is a restaurant you would like to see Adriene review, please contact Pro Se.

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