SINCE McCormick and Schmick's opened on Broad Street six years ago, it's been one of the city's most consistent spots for fresh seafood - ideal for business meals, celebratory dinners and visiting friends and relatives.
But until this week we never thought of it as a place for kids.
The Chain Gang, however, putting the Macaroni Grill on hold until next time, traipsed over to McCormick's Monday night with three adults and three children, ages 4 to 9.
If your kids are well-behaved, the big, light, airy dining room is fine, but if you've got a rambunctious bunch call ahead and try to reserve one of the upstairs snugs that overlooks the dining room, where your children can color the restaurant's children's menu (the restaurant even supplies a bag of crayons) and bop around without creating a scene.
It's the best of both worlds. You can dine on Trout from Australia or Yellowfin Tuna from Hawaii while the young 'uns can get the food they're accustomed to at a very reasonable price.
The Gang started off with tender, not-too-greasy Fried Calamari ($11.95) - tell a 4-year-old it's chicken and they'll eat anything - and a crunchy Coconut Shrimp with a tangy horseradish marmalade for dipping ($8.95). That also went over well - it's fried, it's sweet, what's not to like?
For main courses, the adults went with a delicious Grilled Rainbow Trout ($18.95), lightly flavored with a lemon maple glaze, Grilled Atlantic Salmon ($21.95), with a lemon chive butter and Black Pepper Crusted Sturgeon in a brandy cream sauce ($24.95). For a Gangster who had only ever seen sturgeon on a smoked fish tray next to lox and sable, this meaty, white fish was a rare treat.
As you would expect at M&S, all the fish was moist and flavorful and not smothered in overpowering goo.
The children feasted on a cheeseburger big enough for an adult ($4.95), Chicken Popcorn that looked more like chicken fingers ($4.95) and a nice portion of Fish & Chips ($4.95) with the filets having a perfect crunch. We were split on the accompanying thin-cut French Fries. Some loved them, others thought they were a little soft. And the Caesar Salad ($6.95) didn't have its customary crackle.
Since McCormick & Schmick's fish doesn't fill you up with gloppy sauces, we actually had a little room left for dessert. Upon our waiter's recommendation and that of two children whose eyes lit up at the word "Oreo," we had the Oreo Cheesecake ($6.95) and the Upside Down Apple Pie ($7.95), a house favorite, which comes with walnut-y crust and cinnamon ice cream. Both were fine cappers to a fine meal.
The chain truth
McCormick & Schmick's, 1 South Broad St. (next to City Hall). Phone: 215-568-6888. Other locations in approximately 40 other cities around the country.
Parking: Valet, $16. Garages and lots nearby. Street parking possible but unklikely.
Price: We didn't drink, but dinner for three adults and three children with two appetizers, a salad, three main dishes, three children's dishes, two desserts and a Sprite, came to $135.04 plus tip.
Portions: Reasonable, and you won't hate yourself.
Overall grade: Three-and-a-half out of a possible four links. McCormick & Schmick's may not have the hip factor of some of the city's newer, trendier, chi-chi eateries, but it's as dependable as they come and will be here long after the other spots have gone. *