Del Frisco's is my kind of steakhouse: it's a traditional concept with modern flair. The menu offers big portions, family style sides, and an extensive wine list with everything from steakhouse classics like wedge salads and grilled asparagus to more modern steakhouse options like Philly cheesesteak egg rolls and king crab gnocchi. Come with an appetite and leave with a doggy bag because you're going to want to try it all.
And the restaurant itself echoes this classic meets contemporary vibe too. Del Frisco's isn't a stuffy wood-paneled boys club steakhouse, but rather an elegant and expansive open space with high ceilings, gorgeous chandeliers, cool private rooms,and a wine collection on display that will blow your mind. And the restaurant is located in the old Esquire Theatre in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast with cool mid-century touches like the original marquee sign and coffered ceilings found throughout the space.
The focal point of the entire restaurant is this amazing wine tower that spans the height of the whole dining area and houses a very impressive collection of wines and a spiral staircase that runs through the center. The wine tower opens on to the second floor of the restaurant, right at the open kitchen where you can watch (and smell) the chefs firing up the steaks for the dinner service.
And speaking of dinner service: it was nothing short of amazing.
Our dinner began with a visit with the sommelier. The wine list at Del Frisco's is enormous and can be a bit daunting, so after a quick conversation about what we like, what kind of food we were planning to order, and how much we wanted to drink she was able to expertly narrow it down to a few options. We went with a half bottle (since it was a school night) of Sanford Pinot Noir.
Our server made great suggestions throughout the evening and mentioned that one 'can't miss' appetizer on the menu was the crab cake. I am a huge crab cake fan so I was already eying this one and then the server's suggestion sealed the deal for me. The crab cake was exactly the way it should be: hearty chunks of tender crab meat seared and served in a creamy and slightly spicy Cajun lobster sauce. It was decadent, but perfectly sized for the two of us to share. We are both suckers for steakhouse sides, so we opted to go light on the appetizer orders so that we could have some more fun with the entree sides.
When it comes to entrees, Del Frisco's has a little something for everyone-- steaks, of course, along with some excellent seafood options (or a surf and turf, if you can't decide), and even some pork and chicken options. When at a steakhouse, get a steak though, right? The birthday boy ordered a beautiful bone-in prime ribeye that I neglected to photograph, while I opted for one of the evening's specials. When it comes to steak, I am all about a lean and tender filet mignon and Del Frisco's offers them in both 8 and 12 oz. sizes. The filet sampler, however, offered three differently prepared 4 oz. filets: One with a rich foie gras butter, a second with fresh crab, asparagus, and creamy bernaise sauce, and a third topped with blue cheese and cracked black pepper. Each of these was delicious (though the crab and asparagus topped steak was my favorite) and I loved getting just a little taste of each one.
Now, let's talk about my favorite part of a steakhouse dinner. I know that should be the steak, but I have a serious soft spot for the deliciously rich family-style side dishes that steakhouses are known for serving. And Del Frisco's went above and beyond with these. While my steaks came fully dressed, Alex's was a little more au natural so he jumped on ordering a side of the tender whole sauteed mushrooms to enjoy with his steak. These aren't really my thing (in general), but he loved them-- even the leftovers for lunch the next day too!
And while I left the mushrooms for Alex to enjoy, I made sure to get a side of Brussels sprouts for myself. I am a huge Brussels fan and I loved how they were prepared here: thinly shaved and sauteed until soft, but still with a slight crunch. There was definitely some great bacon flavor here and something almost Asian-- that great sweet/salty/tangy flavor. These were so delicious with the rich steak and some of the other even richer sides that we ordered.
After ordering those three sides, we asked our server if there was anything else that we had missed that was a 'must order.' I had asked him about the King Crab gnocchi earlier in the evening and he said that if we liked lobster mac and cheese, we'd be sure to love this one. So we went ahead and ordered this as well and thank goodness we did-- it was one of the best things I ate that night! The gnocchi was soft and pillowy and there were huge pieces of their signature steakhouse King Crab throughout the dish. It was covered in creamy melty cheese and broiled until brown and bubbly. I could have eaten this as an entree and been totally satisfied.
I should also mention that the service here was incredible-- from the hostess who knew it was Alex's birthday (and presented him with a birthday card upon arrival) to the sommelier, waiter, and totally gracious manager who gave us a tour of the space-- it was a wonderful experience. And they totally outdid themselves by surprising Alex with a little birthday dessert treat-- or treats, rather.
First, their signature molten chocolate souffle came out with a little candle action! This dessert was amazingly light and rich all at the same time... light and fluffy souffle cake with the richest dark chocolate flavor and molten center, served with raspberry coulis, fresh raspberries, and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was a small dessert that for sure would have been enough for the two of us. After a big steak dinner and with as rich as this dessert was, it was the perfect sweet bite to end this delicious meal.
I was actually more partial to Del Frisco's cheesecake, however. This is not your standard cheesecake, people. It was crazy tall and again, achieved that amazing balance of light and rich with a fluffy whipped texture and rich cream cheese flavor. It was all nestled in a pecan crust (my favorite!) with a touch of strawberry sauce and fresh berries. I loved that this cheesecake was lighter in texture and not super sweet-- the flavor was rich and tangy, but the sweetness came from the strawberries which I absolutely love. We only made it through half this slice, so I may have eaten the rest of breakfast the next day...
Our dinner at Del Frisco's was a wonderful experience and I would absolutely return again-- for a celebratory dinner, for entertaining clients, or for a fancy date night. And with all of the private rooms available here this is also a great place to host work functions, rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, or anything else you can think of-- while we were there, one private area was being used for a whiskey tasting and another for a group of guys watching a big March Madness game!
Thank you to Del Frisco's for making Alex's 32nd a very special evening!
Editor's Note: Our meal at Del Frisco's was complimentary, however the opinions expressed here are my own.