Despite a half-dozen signs posted outside heralding its presence, downtown's new Daily Grill is easy to miss. The exterior of the building, kitty-corner from the Cheesecake Factory at Seventh Avenue and Pike Street, is nondescript in the extreme, and the sheer profusion of "NOW OPEN" signs has the effect of negating them altogether. The name Daily Grill also has a way of sliding out of the mind—Current Restaurant? Everyday Eatery? Quotidian Brazier?
Downtown's new Daily Grill is a link in the Grill Concepts Inc. chain, with locations in seven states and the District of Columbia. The "Grill Concepts family" is listed on NASDAQ as "GRIL"; at dailygrill.com, the latest stock price as well as the corporation's SEC and Section 16 compliance filings are but a click away.
Inside Daily Grill Seattle, you are greeted promptly. Lingering at the host stand to look at the menu (Cobb salad, $15.95; rib-eye steak, $27.95; cedar-planked king salmon, market price) makes the manager appear, suited up, ready for any and all topics covered in the company's literature. Saying "I understand you're now open" causes a shadow of confusion—the cogs turn almost audibly—but then he laughs. An inquiry about the thinking behind the wine list also momentarily consternates him—"You mean why the wines that are on the list are there?" he delays—but then the appropriate verbiage about value, etc., is produced. The wines wait, resting horizontally in a large, tasteful glass walk-in enclosure just behind him.
During happy hour, the manager circles the 7,000 square feet of Daily Grill's dining room and bar endlessly, shadowed by the form of the also-besuited, identically dedicated assistant manager. They've trained and been trained well; the service is punctual, professional, entirely pleasant. The atmosphere is above average, the kind of cookie-cutter, soothing steakhouse swank conveyed by dark wood veneer, vaguely deco fixtures, black-and-white photographs from not-too-bygone eras in not-too-dissimilar frames grouped on the walls, not actually meant to be looked at. (Is that Richard Nixon? Yes.) Daily Grill is like the turf cousin to upscale seafood chain Oceanaire down the street, maybe not quite as pricey but with arguably better lighting.
Two businessmen with Texas drawls sit at the bar next to an impeccably made-up woman with impossibly large breasts. They watch Texas hold 'em and/or a baseball game on the flat-screen televisions; she talks on her cell phone continuously while ordering, consuming, and paying for a colorful cocktail in a martini glass. The dining room is populated with guests from the adjacent Sheraton Seattle: more businessmen exchanging business cards and eating steaks, families of tourists with blond-streaked wives and squirmy children.
The happy-hour food—11 choices, $2.95, Monday through Friday, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.—looks reproduced from glossy pictures in a three-ring binder sent from headquarters: golden popcorn shrimp, "Side Kicks" miniburgers, circles of seared ahi tuna, triangles of chicken quesadilla. All of it tastes, curiously, nearly completely neutral, entirely inoffensive, almost like nothing.
Daily Grill, 629 Pike St, 624-8400