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Look What Just Blew In 

Strategically positioned within walking distance from the Morial Convention Center and the French Quarter -- and only a stone's throw from the waiting limousine's outside Harrah's Casino -- the 57th Morton's of Chicago (One Canal Place, 365 Canal St., 566-0221) opened at the Canal Place Shopping Center in January. A ride up the crowded lift deposits you in the classy environs of the steakhouse that got its start when visionary Chicago restaurateurs Arnie Morton and Klaus Fritsch opened the first Morton's in 1978 on State Street in the Windy City. The pair certainly knew their Midwestern beef-eating market; it turns out the rest of the country can be just as carnivorous.

Sure, it's a chain. But you know how shopping at Saks can work up an appetite for a juicy sliced sirloin sandwich with mushrooms? And, guys, do you really think the popcorn and those few Junior Mints passed for dinner with your last movie date? She wasn't drooling over you when you passed by Morton's corner door on your way out. Try the stacked New York Strip and Beefsteak Salad next time, held together through the heart with a steak knife. A glass of merlot, and she might even call you back.

Veal, swordfish, salmon, lobster and crab cakes add to the porterhouses, filets, ribeyes and New York strips. There's a salad with bleu cheese, of course, and a jumbo shrimp cocktail to start. And mind your side items, like creamed spinach, potato skins and sauteed mushrooms, which signify a steakhouse as much as cheesecakes and key lime pies for dessert. (R-4)

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