Back in March I had the extreme pleasure of touring the still under construction space that would eventually hold Boston's first Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse. Del Frisco's is a national chain, specializing in premium steaks, chops, and seafood. Since the restaurant opened in April, Boston has been buzzing about it, and I have been itching to return. Last Thursday I attended a media dinner and I was finally able to sink my teeth into one of those fabulous steaks I had been hearing about.
The first thing to note about Del Frisco's are the views. Set on Liberty Wharf, the wall of windows incorporated into the structure offers stunning views of Boston Harbor, and the Bank of America Pavilion. The dining rooms, and some of the private dinning space maximizes this view which results in a wonderfully pleasing ambiance, different from many steakhouses which seem to capitalize on few windows and very dark woods.
We were treated to a nice sampling of their menu as our dinner, beginning
with their appetizers. Platters of chilled steamed shrimp dressed in three varieties of sauce (traditional cocktail, a mustard base cream, and an Italian marinade) we laid out in front of us accompanied with their crab cake, tuna tartar, and their beef carpaccio. The shrimp served were large and fresh, sweet with their own natural flavors, and perfect both for showcasing the sauces, and standing on their own. The cocktail, classic in it's base, had been heightened from a sometimes lackluster state to having a nice kick to it. It paired very well with the shrimp. The mustard based cream had been given a very healthy dose of white pepper, which slightly overwhelmed the nice acidity of the mustard making this sauce a little flat. The Italian marinade however was packed with bright flavors stemming from hearty use of fresh herbs, garlic and vinegar. This was, by far, my favorite of the shrimp variations.
The crab cake was unique in it's own right, large portions of lump crab, lightly tossed with seasonings and very few breadcrumbs, baked and piled high on top of a creole inspired mayo based sauce. The crab was succulent, the seasonings were spot on and the sauce had a good blend of both smoke and heat. This was a great crab cake really showcasing the meat and not the fillers.
The tuna tartar was one of the standout dishes I sampled at the opening party back in April. A great mix of fresh tuna, herbs and acid to cut the denseness of the tuna. Paired with crostini lightly drizzled with vinegar, this is a wonderful appetizer. This would actually be what I ordered if I were to return to Del Frisco's on my own. It's light freshness, mixed with the bright acid, is the perfect way to begin a decadent meal in my book.
My final taste of the appetizers unfortunately fell a little flat, the beef carpaccio. I am a huge fan of beef carpaccio and will order it wherever I go. Normally the rare beef is perfectly offset by pepper (either black, or incorporated through arugula), and salt which enhances what is a beautiful thins slice of meet. Unfortunately at Del Frisco's there wasn't enough of either of these two seasonings used, and the meat didn't feel as special as I knew it was. With appetizers complete, we were served a salad course next, my selection being the Del's signature salad consisting of lettuce served with tomatoes, topped by an avocado goddess dressing and large thick slices of bacon. This salad was a delight. The creamy dressing offset the refreshing lettuce and the tangy tomatoes perfectly. The bacon was simply over the top. Clean and non greasy to the taste, the bacon had pure smoky flavors and a nice chew to it. I could wake up to a few slices of that ban every day happily!Finally it was steak time. I, in my extremely carnivorous ways, selected the bone in rib eye for two reasons-the marbling of fat I knew the cut would contain, and that trusty bone. Marbling of fat throughout a steak is a clear indicator of flavor. While it's cooking, the fat melts into the meat, and enhances the natural flavors. The bone, which I like to think of as the "epicenter of flavor" infuses sits natural flavors as it cooks. The combination is wonderful. I requested my steak to be cooked to medium rare, my usual choice. My steak was flavored perfectly. A simple crust of black pepper and salt, the first few bites were perfection. Towards the center of the steak I did find that the temperature dropped considerably and found a much more rare bite. However, I actually enjoy my steak rarer and happily relished it. We were treated to several side dishes for the evening: chateau potatoes, onion rings, steamed broccoli, and lobster macaroni and cheese. The potatoes, unfortunately, just didn't do it for me-mealy in texture and over salted, I quickly tasted and surpassed them. However, the steamed broccoli which I feared would be over cooked and flavorless was crunchy and well seasoned. The onion rings were completely delicious, large rings of onion, battered with an impossibly light and crunchy exterior, fried to perfection, maintained their integrity of onion and provided a true onion flavor in every bite. Perfection. The lobster Mac and cheese was also a treat, elbow noodles encased in cheese and topped with a buttery bread crumb topping-every bite yielded both melty cheese, and a delightful crunch. My serving didn't have as much lobster as I would have liked, but I think that was my own fault for urging our server to only give me small portions!Dessert gave us options as well, a banana bread pudding, a molten chocolate cake, cinnamon creme brûlée, lemon cake and fresh berries served with fresh whipped cream. I sampled each, a bite of the lemony and sturdy cake, a spoon of the creme brûlée, a bit of the cake, the pudding, however the standout for me, after such a decadent meal were the incredibly fresh berries. Large sweet blackberries, tender and tangy raspberries, and perfect slices of strawberries were the perfect end to the evening satisfying the gentle sweet tooth, but without going too over the top. The addition of fresh fruit to any menu makes me very happy and when the restaurant has found those perfect specimens of in season fruit-even better.
My experience at Del Frisco's was pleasurable. The wines served, two from their incredible selection, were well balanced. They nicely complimented the meal, and both were selections from our own West Coast, including one from the great state of Washington, which is my favorite wine region. Our servers were helpful, knowledgeable and funny, a rare combination I've found. The only clear misstep was in their timing, each course separated by lengthy pauses that made us grow a bit restless. However, the tasty food, gorgeous views and friendly staff made up for that and overall, the meal was a success. There is some tough competition in Boston for steak houses, Del Frisco's would get a second visit in my book.