Proud New Yorkers-and now Tokyoites-that we are, we'd never heard of McCormick and Schmick's chain of 40-odd fine dining spots scattered across the western US until a British pal tried one on a business trip to Portland last year. So we didn't exactly rush out to try their first overseas venture when it opened in Shiodome. But then we heard they had steak. And not just any steak: dry-aged USDA Prime.
For a couple of carnivores whose first meal off the JFK-bound plane is either a medium-rare sirloin or blood-red filet, this was good news indeed. The next day we took a dizzying ride to the newly opened 42nd-floor restaurant and arrived ready to feast.
As we ambled past a waiting room reminiscent of a governor's office with its wide wooden desk, state flag and nature scenes rolling across a flat-screen TV, we half expected a couple of cowboys or park rangers to amble by. Alas, as we continued past a wall of Oregon wines and a half-hearted attempt at Old West bar ambience with raw wooden floors and casual steel tables, the twinkling lights of all of Tokyo-not to mention the smiling sumo wrestler dining with his family-reminded us we were still in Shinbashi. Nevertheless, we eagerly took our seats in the swanky, mahogany-and-leather side of the large dining room and ordered two perfectly frothy Miller drafts (¥800). Soon we moved on to the extensive Oregon wine list and a smooth Williamette Valley 1998 Founder's Reserve Pinot Noir (¥7,500).
Like its sister establishments in the US, which are famous for their seafood, Oregon Bar and Grill prints its menus daily to reflect the prices and selection at the fish market. One of the three specials the day we visited was the intriguing grilled flying squid, king prawns and scallops with lemon (¥3,200). But we were saving ourselves and instead opted to supplement our fresh bread loaf with the Oregon-inspired traditional baby spinach salad with apple-smoked bacon, dried blueberries, hazelnuts and balsamic vinaigrette (¥1,600). The tangy vinaigrette added a refreshing kick to the fresh spinach, sprinkling of nuts and three pieces of crispy bacon.
After a sufficiently long wait, which the discreet staff apologized for profusely, our salvation arrived in the form of medium-rare USDA Prime strip (¥4,800 for 12oz; ¥6,400 for 14oz). (Oregon offers Prime and Choice grades, the latter for about 20 percent less.)
For the next ten minutes, we savored the butter-tinged steaks with their warm, red centers and were only disappointed when they failed to fill our overzealous appetites. The sides of garlic rice and mashed potatoes were also on the skimpy side, but savory nonetheless.