The square logo with an “F” on the front door is the first thing you see when you walk into Fleming’s Steakhouse, but that is far from the grade we would give this year-old Coral Gables eatery.
First of all, this is not your typical stuffy upscale steakhouse. The light jazz and pop music playing overhead, cherry wood walls and tables, and dim lighting from saucer-shaped lights give Fleming’s a comfortable, romantic feeling that makes you want to kick off your shoes after a hard day at work.
You might be tempted to do so, but restrain yourself, since this is certainly not a casual dining spot. Men and women sporting business suits are commonplace, and it is not unusual to find a group of businesspeople huddled at a table holding a meeting.
Fleming’s is famous for its selections of wine by the glass, and our server’s pinot noir suggestion whet our appetites for Fleming’s table offerings: a basket of crunchy flatbread and crispy celery, served with a side of chardonnay-infused smoked cheddar cheese spread and a reddish brie with sun-dried tomatoes and a hint of cabernet. The sharp cheddar flavor danced on our tongues in the first dip, but the brie was simply bland.
We followed with one of Fleming’s signature wine flights, which was hit and miss: The smoothness and subtle strength of the Penfolds Shiraz, South Australia Kalimna Bin 28, 2002 made it ideal to enjoy with a steak, but the Altum Merlot TerraMater, 1999 was too bold to even take more than a sip.
The appetizer course proved that Fleming’s has mastered far more than steak. Jumbo lump crab cakes with roasted red pepper and lime butter sauce were almost pure crab — unlike the filler-packed cakes at most other restaurants that serve this delicacy. The butter sauce and tomato bits made the dish rich and creamy, without overpowering the delicious crabmeat. We also enjoyed seared ahi tuna on a fresh vegetable salad with spicy mustard sauce.
Although it was served with wasabi sauce, our waiter suggested dabbing it in soy sauce. The tuna, with its red center, tasted like delicious bits of a juicy steak.
We indulged in a medium-cooked filet mignon for one of our main courses. The corn-fed prime beef was butter-knife-sliceable, tender and juicy. When dipped in the tangy, creamy homemade béarnaise sauce that accompanies all steaks at Fleming’s, the meat’s juices and flavor really came out.
We also ordered two Australian lobster tails. The lobster was slightly larger than its Florida counterpart, with a firm white texture. It also was noticeably sweeter than its local cousin, and dipping it in butter sauce only enhanced the meat’s flavor.
On the side, we enjoyed home-cut fried shoestring potatoes and
sweet creamed corn oozing with melted parmesan and gruyere cheese. Fleming’s signature potatoes — a generous portion of scalloped potatoes topped with Monterey and cheddar cheese and some parsley — were rich, saucy and a must-have when eating there.
For dessert, we considered the Baked Alaska but opted for the chocolate lava cake served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a crispy shell. The warm cake with melted chocolate inside and ice cream topping melted in our mouth almost as quickly as it did on the hot plate it’s served on. – Jaime Hernandez
Flemings: 2525 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables.
Dinner: Mon-Thu 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri-Sat 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.,
Sun 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.