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Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

In a word: If I could call out a price, let's say I call out a lot.

The specs: #0254
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Madison Dining Online, Yelp, billzilla, Ruppert Food Blog; official web site; Fleming's Prime Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Latest Fleming's news and reviews

JM ate the 12 oz filet mignon.
Nichole ate the sea scallops.
We split the chocolate mousse cake.
The bill was $76, or $38/person, plus tip.
JM gave Fleming's an A-; Nichole gave Fleming's a B (see our grading rubric).

Something our good friend Sean has said of Sundance 608 could apply to Fleming's as well:

The good news ... is that you get your money's worth. The bad news is ... it's a lot of money.

What could make Fleming's worth the money is the excellent service, the spotless tables (we actually saw staff at a neighboring table inspecting wine glasses with a penlight), and the high-quality food in the classic steakhouse idiom. What makes it less appealing is that it's a chain. Again. Frankly, we'd much rather drop a bill at Tornado or even Smoky's Club.

Still, the evening was quite lovely. A uniformed valet opened the restaurant door for us, lacking any cars to park (most folks seemed happy enough with the nearby parking to do without). We were greeted warmly by the hostess, who asked if we were celebrating a special occasion. We were seated and offered black napkins to go with our black pants and a wine list the size of the Janesville phone book. A relish tray soon followed.

Relish tray

Throughout our meal, various staff members swept past and removed items from our table until it was nearly bare. Efficient, but disconcerting.

The place was nearly deserted even though it was a Friday at 7. This was good, because the tables in the middle of the room were somewhat crowded. Our table overlooked what seemed to be a moodily-lit shrine to various alcohols:

Wine shrine

Alas, we'll leave the wine reviewing to someone who knows something about the subject (not that we're up on the latest prime beef news or anything). JM did observe that his steak was an excellent cut of meat with a rich, deep flavor. The steaks at Fleming's are a la carte, which makes for a bare-looking plate; however, JM was anything but hungry after the satisfying and fortifying steak.

Filet mignon

Nichole's scallops were seared outside to perfection, and slightly rare in the center. They were accompanied by a puff-pastry basket of vegetables including thin sliced squash, peeled bits of asparagus, and twee waffle-cut carrots. The too-buttery pastry and lobster sauce made for a very, very rich meal.

Scallops

But that didn't stop us from getting dessert, just this once. (Nichole had won a bet & Fleming's looked like the most promising place to cash in.) The chocolate mousse cake was more than enough for two, and in fact we took some home. It was served with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Even the chocolate drizzled on the plate was worth tasting, unlike the anemic and haphazard doodles on most plates. We were pleased that the mousse itself, like the whipped cream, were not overly sweetened. The chocolate walnut shortbread crust, on the other hand, was not quite sweet enough, and came off somewhat dry.

Chocolate mousse cake

So, all in all we left stuffed, though a little shocked about what we'd dropped on one meal (and that's sans wine).  Fleming's may be a place where people who have a desire to clean tables work to eliminate any and all unnecessary items on yours, but for a good cut of meat and some well thought out reliable food -- it seems to hit the spot.

Comments

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I think the food here is actually pretty good - especially given it's a chain - but it is seriously expensive (think $27 for a chicken breast with some mushroom sauce on it, $9 for a piece of cheesecake, and $3.50 for a cup of decaf to go with your cheesecake). No salads or sides with that - everything is pretty much a la carte. Thankfully, the only times I have ever been are 1) Restaurant Week and 2) when I've gotten a $25 dining credit for filling out one of their post-visit satisfaction surveys. That doesn't make a meal with your friend or partner cheap, by any means - but at least it takes your bill out of the stratosphere. Again, the food is good, though - and the service is excellent.

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