With a half-dozen stylish boîtes under their belts—Po Dog, serving luxe hot dogs in the $7 range; Grim’s, a bar; and The Social, a nightclub; along with a Ballard project in the works—it’s clear that Laura Olson and Chris Pardo’s collection of edgy hot spots attract the young and hip like bees to a hive. But when is substance more important than style? Easy: When you’re charging $35 for a thin, burnt-tasting steak.
At the club-like Manhattan Drugs, it’s clear that the words “steak” and “house” are just for status: more fitting words would be “thumping” (the techno music) and “mailing it in” (the kitchen). The menu reads like a trip to a chain restaurant in a strip mall: popcorn shrimp ($10) that tasted so faintly of shrimp I had to strain to tell what they were; a wedge salad glommed with blue cheese dressing ($8). The endive salad ($10) with pear and tarragon vinaigrette was better, but still not quite special. Entrées—overcooked king salmon with asparagus (desperately out of season during one January meal); that seriously mediocre rib-eye ($35; our zealous server bragged of the steak’s Prime, Nebraska corn-fed pedigree)—were pricey and not worth it.
But frankly, I looked around and wondered whether anyone else cared; it wasn’t a room full of gastronomes, but full of hard bodies surely yearning to push all the tables out of the way so they could get their groove on.
Brunch Sat.–Sun., dinner nightly. Capitol Hill, 1419 12th Ave.; 206.325.6574; manhattan-drugs.pterodactylgroup.com $$$