Philly is home to quite a few steakhouses. You've got Barclay Prime and Butcher and Singer from Stephen Starr. The chains also have you set with Ruth's Chris and Smith & Wollensky, of which the latter is one of my favorites in NYC. And of course, you've also got Del Frisco's, a "chain" steakhouse that embodies all things power lunch or expense accounts. And regular readers know that, at least in my opinion, higher-end chains like Ruth's Chris and Del Frisco's are nothing to scoff at. If anything they have consistent execution and service down pat.
Philly's outpost for Del Frisco's is cavernous. It all starts with the iron-clad gates that welcome you in. You can venture downstairs and have your meal in a bank vault.
Or enter straight ahead and enjoy a drink at the bar, with the vaulted ceilings providing a grand atmosphere.
Or do as the GF and I did and reserve a table upstairs to overlook it all, right next to a spiral staircase filled with hundreds, if not thousands of bottles of wine.
Old Fashioned [$14]
Knob Creek bourbon, muddled cherry, orange, sugar, bitters
I started the meal with an oft-enjoyed cocktail. Can't go wrong with Knob Creek - the orange helped to add some lightness to this well-made drink.
Diet Coke [$4]
The GF wasn't feeling a drink that night, so went with a Diet Coke. FYI - this is the type of place that won't invest in fountain soda, for reasons that are financially obvious. Interestingly though, the soda was initially completely flat. No carbonation whatsoever. The server was a bit flummoxed as well, but once we offered her a taste to dispel any disbelief (which she declined), she brought us another which was just fine. Weird.
The meal starts off with bread service - crusty, yeasty, and salty sesame bread. Whipped butter was served at room temp, which is always appreciated. The server stopped by to ask if we wanted some more bread, but we decided to save room for what was to come.
Del's Salad [$10]
The GF ordered the house salad, which the servers graciously split for us, much to the chagrin of the GF. A thick-cut, crispy piece of bacon sat atop Romaine and field greens, in addition to a melange of cherry tomatoes, carrots, avocado, green onions, and croutons. Ranch dressing was provided as well.
Fried Calamari [$17]
This was our second time at Del Frisco's in Philly and we had to order the calamari again. Sweet and crispy, the calamari had a nice bit of head on the end. The mung bean sprouts and pickled jalapeno offered some texture and tang, with the sweetness of the black sesame accenting the delicious sauce. Highly recommended.
8 oz. Filet Mignon [$39]
The GF went with the 8 ounce filet, cooked nicely medium-rare. This is USDA prime beef, though not aged. It had great flavor with a tenderness that's prototypical of the filet. The crust was nicely seasoned and accentuated the beef. Unfortunately, here, they cut into the steak before bringing it to your table. Understandably, they want to get the temperature correct before their patrons dig in, but in my mind, it brings down the experience a bit, especially at these prices.
As expected, I went with the ribeye which was beautifully seasoned on the outside. This USDA prime beef is wet-aged for 16 to 18 days. While I give the nod to Ruth's Chris's ribeye for their superlative crust, this was still quite delicious. The deckle or cap of the steak was gorgeously marbled - clearly my favorite cut on the steak.
Onion Rings [$10]
Knowing the belly of this pig, you'd expect me to order a few sides as well. For me, a steakhouse's sides are often measured by their onions rings. Though not as crispy as other steakhouses, these were huge and had a creamy batter - reminiscent of a malt/vinegar fish n chips batter.
Lobster Mac n Cheese [$18]
When I see lobster mac n cheese on the menu, it will be ordered. This was creamy and the briny essence of the lobster comes through nicely, with a few chunks of lobster interspersed throughout. The top of the mac n cheese was nicely crispy, offering some texture to each bite. Apologies for the picture, but our server had already spooned a serving to each of our plates.
And with that, our meal was over, with plenty of leftovers for the next day. Other than the flat soda ($4!!), the meal was on point and service was excellent. Though Barclay Prime and Ruth's Chris remain my favorites in Philly, Del Frisco's offers a great meal as well. Not that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's choices for fine dining are anything to consider (they're not), but they did enjoy a meal here when they were last in town.
And about a week later, we received a thank you card from Del Frisco's.
Certainly a nice touch and definitely appreciated!