Monday, October 29, 2007

Del Frisco's: Closing The Gap to #1

Don't look now, but Del Frisco's is quietly kicking some steak ass in Midtown.

You can’t slam a joint for not being from New York.

As much as I’d love to throw rocks at Del Frisco’s, the massive, gleaming 6th Avenue meat factory, I can’t. The fact is… expensive as it may be, the food is downright terrific.

Case in point: a recent lunch at Del Frisco’s.

First, the setting is ridiculous. This place doesn’t have one or two floors… it has three. With three bars. And an escalator. A first floor that resembles an airport hanger dressed in mahogany, an beautiful upstairs with view of 6th Avenue… and a quieter underground with cozy tables where you can close that all important business deal.

Let’s get one thing out of the way. I like a place where you can blow $100 on lunch, as well as get a burger for $13. This is that place. And believe me, the fantastic $13 Prime Beef Burger with skillet potatoes is as filling as a steak, or anything else you might get… so don’t feel guilty. I’ve been preaching about the filet tips and mashed potatoes on the bar menu for 2 years now (yes, they are still there for $10), but the burgers are worth the trip.

That said, the steaks are superb. I found the 10oz ribeye with chateau potatoes tender and perfectly cooked ($27) as well as the Filet Mignon tips (melt in your mouth) with pasta ($19).

There are decent seafood options here in tuna, scampi, salmon and scallops… but the steaks are front and center and deservedly so. The sides are large enough to split between 2 or 3, and on a recent trip I enjoyed a platter of steak cut, hand dipped onion rings… as well as buttery mushrooms.

If you don’t feel like fretting over the menu, there is a business lunch special for $29 that includes a salad and choice of filet mignon or salmon. The hot, crispy loaf of sesame bread comes free of charge.

Dinner prices are a bit steeper, but the quality doesn’t disappoint. On this menu you’ll see the nighttime debut of a bone-in veal chop ($39), porterhouse for two ($99) and prime lamb ($39). A delicious Osso buco also makes an appearance, with fresh lobsters and various seafood offerings. Any of these sparkle with a side of creamy Maque Choux Corn, a recipe more often found in South Louisiana than midtown Manhattan.

Generally, all of the side dishes are terrific, and the wine list is above average in quality and value.

So, why isn’t Del Frisco’s at the top of every list?

Several reasons.

First, the service can be uneven. They often try and oversell here, and they don’t need too. It’s easy enough to run up a hefty tab here without feeling guilty for missing dessert, so back off.

Next, this is not a New York dining experience, as the place seats about 500 people. It is big, loud and noisy… and tourists and businessmen on expense accounts call this place home.

Lastly, it’s not a native New York steak joint. Sounds crazy, but this town is loyal to its steak-shrines. Let’s get over this and enjoy some good eats, shall we?

Del Frisco’s. Now you know. There’s good meat on 6th Avenue and for once, it isn’t coming from a food cart.