Seriously-how can anybody have ever not given 5 stars? And yes, we have been to Ruth Chris, Chops, and The Capital Grill, if that helps-and Shula's BLEW them all out of the water.
We went this Friday for our 5 year anniversary. We made online reservations through their website. We didn't need the reservations this time of year (off season) but if you have anything special, I would recommend it because they really paid attention. For example I noted in the "notes" section that it was our 5 year anniversary and also that my husband had special needs and explained what they were.
We arrived a little after 6:30 for 7:30 reservations and let the hostess know we were there but intended on having a cocktail or two at the bar. The bar was quiet. The bartender was great-made a great dirty martini and took a special request for a homemade cocktail that my husband likes. I've read reviews saying the décor is very cheesy being football related and it really wasn't as bad as I expected. It reminded me a lot of a cigar bar more than a sports café as stated. Also whoever said it was too dark must not like romantic atmosphere. It was not so dark you could not read the menu without a flashlight, as stated. It was perfectly lit for our anniversary dinner anyways.
Our table was ready early but the hostess noted it was no rush if we preferred to stay at the bar until our 7:30 call time. We finished our drink leisurely and was then shown to our table. As remembered from our reservation, it was all set up for an anniversary. We had a "happy anniversary" table tent, card, and box of Norman Love chocolates! Very impressed.
Service was more high scale I found than Capital Grill and Ruth Chris-somewhat "cruise" style as we had a main server, and then her team. Except-better than cruises, our main server was truly doing all the important work with the rest of her team helping. Our server was Shane-and she is the best server we've ever had, bar none. In Florida, esp. off season, you are lucky if you get either an efficient server, or a friendly one. She was over the top both-and a complete professional.
The only weird thing we found about the football theme was how they bring you some sort of signed special football that has some menu items on it and they set it on the table. I really didn't want a football on my plate and was having trouble seeing my husband around it! He nicely asked one of the staff if they wouldn't mind removing it for that reason and they did promptly.
Service is what you would expect in a five star restaurant with a water offering and a cart viewing/explanation of the different cuts of meats. They also give you an interactive app. to help select wines/drinks, which is pretty cool.
In a steakhouse, you can't always count on good seafood, but the seafood trio looked so good I couldn't help myself. I ordered it for a starter and it was excellent. Chilled lobster, shrimp, and crab meat with 3 sauces. It was excellent. I want to note that our server took our entire order at the beginning which is always scary because it usually is poorly timed-but just the opposite-it really helped them time everything precisely-esp. since our soufflé needed to be ordered 20 minutes ahead of time (and she was on the ball enough to let us know that was the case upfront instead of finding out too late, like what happened the first time I ever ordered a soufflé somewhere else). Also she did not write anything down on a notepad which I know freaks some people out but again you have no worries. This was another portion which had me over the top impressed. As I noted, my husband has special needs which include a food sensory disorder. This usually makes dining out a poor experience because his food must be ordered so precisely and there are such few foods he can eat, that it is almost never done correctly. In addition-it can be embarrassing in an upscale restaurant. When my husband apologetically began his complicated order, Shane was very understanding. She said, "no worries at all-I've read your reservation comments before hand and I absolutely understand". Even without a notepad she got every item completely right and the kitchen obliged and it was one of the few times his plate came back perfect first time. It warmed my heart how thrilled he was and how compassionate they were!
As for my meal, I again went against the grain and wasn't sorry I did. I ordered the 22 ounce lamb porterhouse-which I was crazy curious about what that was! It turns out it is TWO 11 ounce porterhouses. I have only had lamb chops to date and the porterhouse was an awesome cut. It came with a mint demi glace that was to DIE for! One portion would have been plenty-and they should have that option though I think.
Like the other high end steak houses in this area, side orders are ala carte. I ordered the crab mac and cheese and spinach. The spinach was good if you need a bitter green with your meal and very garlickly. The mac & cheese was probably one of the best sides I've ever eaten. It's just wrong to call it mac and cheese because it was soooooooooo elevated beyond that. It's a must get and the chunks of crab in it are so big. And seriously-all side items serve at LEAST two-they are huge!
Since it was our anniversary we went all out and got not only the soufflé but the molten lava cake (okay and ice cream). They ice cream was brought out with a candle and an edible "happy anniversary" tag and Shane took our picture.
I am a foodie and have been quite disappointed by some of even the trendiest spots in this area and honestly tried very hard to find some fault in Shula's for the sake of a great review and there just isn't any fault to be had. It's a pricey place-but it's totally on par with the other high end steak houses in this neighborhood, and in fact, I was actually surprised that the prices on my lamb and husband's filet weren't higher. And they were cooked PERFECT to temp and they check before even leaving the table. We had to flag down a manager-only to tell him what amazing service we had start to finish. And they even gave us a discount, without asking-when has that ever happened when you've had impeccable dinner with no complaints?
Five stars all around-above and beyond from the hostess, bartender, servers, kitchen, management, food, attitudes, etc. They have a "buy one get one" on your birthday if you sign up and we have already decided we'll be back for BOTH our birthdays! Thank you Don Shula's for one of the best dates of our marriage!!!!
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