Worth the Weight

Drinkwater's City Hall piles on the portions -- and the pounds

The thought of a big court settlement in my future lessens the pain of spending 30 bucks on just a piece of meat (no salad, no potato, no vegetable -- nothing but the plate). But at City Hall, I'm also paying for stunning, big-city atmosphere, 13,000 square feet of ruby-red carpeting, slump glass doors, Brazilian cherry millwork, glittering glass partitions separating the bar and the dining room, heavy silver tableware, and a full wall of temperature-controlled wines, plus live jazz piano and dancing. The menu is the same as at Mastro's Steakhouse, but this is a fresher ambience. "Mastro's with uptown sex appeal, a restaurant for the new millennium," the on-hold phone message gushes. And the place is co-owned by Mark Drinkwater, the high-style Valley restaurateur and son of late former Scottsdale Mayor Herb Drinkwater, so that's got to be worth something.

This isn't just any $30 slab of meat, either, but the best USDA Prime, Midwest corn-fed steer, cut in the in-house butcher shop, wet-aged for 21 to 28 days, seasoned, broiled at 1800 degrees, slicked with clarified butter and presented on a sizzling, 400-degree plate. Not only is the 22-ounce, Danielle Steele novel-thick bone-in rib eye one of the most flavorful cuts of beef I've ever savored, its cost will be mere pittance after I collect my damages from restaurant management. Go ahead, add on the sharp, rich Gorgonzola crust, I tell my server (an extra 100 cals).

I watched in awe a petite lady at the table next to me -- she waved away an offered takeout container and gnawed every speck of flesh left on her almost 1-1/2-pound chicken. The sight was a little shocking, until I tasted it myself later -- the free-range bird is flooded with juices, roasted golden brown and crispy-skinned. She eats all of hers; I eat all of mine. It's way, way over our suggested daily intake of 2,000 calories, but it's not our fault.

It'll take a lot of fancy dance moves to work off the delicious calories at Drinkwater's.
Erik Guzowski
It'll take a lot of fancy dance moves to work off the delicious calories at Drinkwater's.

Details

Fried calamari: $9.95
Shrimp cocktail: $12.95
Caesar salad: $6.95
Prime rib: $34.95
Rib eye chop: $31.95
Baked potato: $5.95
Creamed corn: $6.95

480-941-4700. Hours: Dinner, Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight.

6991 East Camelback, Scottsdale

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I better get my lawsuit filed soon, though. I'm thinking Mastro's is wise to my plan, so eager are they sometimes to help me curb my appetite. It's a constant challenge to hold on to plates -- overly efficient bussers have to be slapped repeatedly to stop them from removing big white bread platters, silver breadbaskets, or half-finished appetizers and entrees when we pause to draw breath and check our heart rates.

And now and then, management sends out food to slam our feasting to a stop. One evening's oysters Rockefeller are nasty -- six huge but harsh mollusks not fully cleaned of grit under their wet blanket of spinach and cheese. Escargot mushrooms aren't as interesting as they sound, either, just giant domestic buttons stuffed with minced snail (the aftertaste the only telltale sign that it's mollusk), herbed breadcrumbs and too much crunchy garlic. One night's rib eye falls from spectacular to just so-so (it's a Sunday, though, and the meat may not have been the freshest). And I can pass on a creative but irritating "mambo" salad, a crouton-less caesar done up with a violent horseradish-wasabi dressing.

No doubt Mastro will point to these less-than-perfect helpings when it defends itself against my legal onslaught. But I'll win the day and a big pot of money. No jury will disagree that I was coerced to eat heartily after tasting a meal at Mastro's.

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