You can tell that the Daily Grill isn't from around here, because it describes itself as "modeled after the great big city grills of the '30s and '40s." Boston didn't have such things. That would be New York and Chicago. In fact, of the 22 Daily Grills, the first was in Hollywood, and more than half are in California. While it is true that this column stands on the offer to give all of California back to Mexico in exchange for the Doña Elpidia restaurant in Oaxaca City, I think we just might keep our Daily Grill. That's not just displaced nostalgia talking; this is the kind of moderately priced, quietly classy steak house that suits any locale and era. Nothing really jumps out, other than the size and quality of some desserts, but everything is predictably good.
|The Daily Grill | 105 Huntington Avenue, Boston | 617.424.4400 | Open Monday–Thursday, 11:30 am–10 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11 am–11 pm; and Sunday, 11 am–10 pm | AE, DC, DI, MC, VI | Full bar | No valet parking; discounted validated parking in Prudential Garage after 5 pm | sidewalk-level access|
Thanks to a very good corporate decision, we start with warm sourdough bread and sweet butter. Appetizers are probably the course for economizers to skip, though you can certainly do well on the soup of the day ($3.95/with entree; $5.50/cup; $6.75/bowl). Our night it was winter squash zig-zagged with a bit of cream but not over-thickened, a little sweet, a little spicy (allspice?) — in all, a terrific soup that avoids the extremes of its type. A jumbo lump crab cake ($13.95; $26.95/two as an entrée) was almost all crab meat (with a bit of wine sauce), to the point that it fell apart on the fork. The spicy pecan, gorgonzola, endive, and romaine salad ($9.75) was all of that, but had only a couple of leaves of endive. The chefs did chop in a little radicchio, though, and the pecans were outstanding.
Okay, so what about those steaks? The best, one server opined, is the charbroiled rib eye ($29.95). Daily Grill steaks are described as "certified Angus beef" — the technical program designation — "aged up to 28 days." Now, 28 days would be the low end of dry aging, and that is what the rib eye — a legitimate 16 ounces of inch-thick boneless entrecôte — suggests. It's a lot more tender and a little more beefy than supermarket steaks, without more than a hint of the complexity and whiff of corruption that comes with the longer dry-aging of some top steak houses. Of course, like many super-gourmet treats, over-aged beef is something of an acquired taste, and savored for its rarity and expense as much as for actual good eating. Many diners prefer beef as served at Daily Grill. I certainly devoured this platter, as well as plenty of shoestring French fries and a whole head of perfect broccoli. The skirt steak ($24.50) is a cheaper, tastier, chewier cut to begin with, here marinated and served with the same trimmings. One surprising error was getting the temperatures right. The default is medium-rare, though the skirt came about half medium-well, half-medium-rare. The rib eye came rare. Nothing was sent back, I assure you.