A sweeping sense of grandeur is the main course at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. Accented by three-story-high crimson window dressings strewn expertly across the interior, Del Frisco’s is housed in a former bank building in Philadelphia’s Center City making it convenient for locals and visitors alike. Located in the Packard Grande Building at the corner of Chestnut St. and 15th St., Del Frisco’s Steakhouse is a historic landmark in more ways than one. In addition to this proud architectural heritage, the dining room décor is a thing of unparalleled beauty, impressing area diners since 2008. The sheer scale of the interior is something no one should miss. Even a simple appetizer is instantly transformed into a state dinner while dining in the presence of such opulence; this sense of grandness is compounded by the fact that the restaurant boasts a capacity of 556 patrons across its three expansive levels.
We are encouraged by the hostess to explore the lower level of Del Frisco's expansive property and are astonished to find the Vault downstairs. As an old Philadelphia bank brimming with character, Del Frisco’s has smartly preserved the stunning bank vault for its diners to enjoy. Glimmering in steel with the restaurant moniker etched across its entrance, the vessel houses an intimate private dining room meant for small private parties. There is also a low key bar area across from the vault that makes ogling the giant structure over a classic cocktail easy even if you’re eating in the main dining room.
The center of the lavish dining room is dominated by a gargantuan tower of wine bottles that hovers high above the throngs of diners. Its size is a testament to both the restaurant’s enduring sense of largesse as well as its commitment to offering diners comprehensive options for the evening. After perusing the first ten pages of the wine list, we realize its length rises to Biblical proportions with over 1500 selections available to the discerning palate.
The chef manning the helm at Del Frisco’s Steakhouse is John Stritzinger, formerly the Executive Chef at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Wilmington, Delaware. The 33-year-old chef’s experience behind the burners has spanned over 17 years; but lest you think he’s allowed his title to interfere with classic American kid’s fare, he still enjoys feeding his young children mac and cheese. Thankfully, Stritzinger’s clientele in Philadelphia has acquired a taste for the finer things and his kitchen delivers some of the city’s most delectable and praiseworthy steakhouse dishes.
Migrating across the main dining room, the restaurant bar attracts a multitude of patrons with business suits and party dresses in equal attendance. The bar area is well laid out and serves as a swanky meeting place for professionals recently released from the city’s sleek office buildings. However, the hot spot is also an alluring drinking destination for diners awaiting their reservation while taking in the atmosphere. We arrive early to explore the grounds and experience the restaurant outside its luxuriously appointed booths. This was a wise decision as the interior is divided into an expansive balcony, the main dining room, and the vault downstairs. The expertly mixed cocktails are the ideal complement to enjoying the finely tuned atmosphere of sophistication.
The service is truly superb and we enjoy getting to know the restaurant better through the vibrant personalities of its wait staff. A genuine warmth radiates from our server and his input plays a large role in our menu choices. Lively and fun, but always professional, the servers are on hand in a moment’s notice at the first sign of a half-full water glass or merely a puzzled glance at the menu. Despite the bustling pace of Del Frisco’s evening rush, both our sommelier and server lend the meal a sense of intimacy and service that makes the meal truly memorable.
Our first course consists of the Blue Point Oysters on the Half Shell. Accompanied by classic condiments, cocktail sauce, and lemon wedges, the shellfish tastes alternately delicate and robust throughout the appetizer course. Always unfailingly succulent, these oysters demonstrate the immense range of flavor profiles possible in fine seafood when a restaurant prioritizes flavor and texture.
The motto at Del Frisco’s regarding their freshly baked bread is “Rip it, break it, just don’t cut it.” Such is the level of detail devoted to a well-rounded dining experience at this world-class steakhouse. Served piping hot and supple to the touch, the bread is all but impossible to resist with its aroma beckoning from a wooden cutting board served table side.
It’s hard to conceive of a more decadent dish than King Crab Gnocchi, but Del Frisco’s Steakhouse is always up for a challenge. This rarefied seafood, prized for its succulent texture and rich flavor, is a highlight of the menu and satisfied two people easily. Hearty gnocchi is served as a soft bed for the silky crab meat, which envelopes the senses and raises the ante on fine dining.
A dirty martini arrives with a generous pour and pitch-perfect ratio of gin to vermouth courtesy of the talented mixologist manning the bar. We also peruse the restaurant’s wine list for signs of lively pairings and are pleased to discover the list is highly selective yet still broad. The sommelier consults with us on our choice of a bottle of Chateau Nuef De Pap, promising a delightfully earthy experience. True to form, its notes are full and crisp, reflecting its classic French provenance and adding another flavor dimension to the meal.
The Wedge Salad arrives with a flourish as our server clears the table. Notably, we are asked whether we’d like crumbled blue cheese in addition to the creamy dressing and it is the right decision. Del Frisco’s serves chunks of pungent blue cheese on its iceberg salad and the added punch creates a symphony of flavors rarely experienced with a salad. The portion is large enough to be shared easily and the kitchen slices it accordingly into two halves once we indicate our preference.
Again, with valuable insight from our server, we narrow down the entree options to two, eventually settling on the evening’s special Bone-In Filet Mignon and the Cold Water Australian Lobster Tail. The filet piques my interest because it is unlike any steak I’ve ever seen. Typically, filet mignons is served boneless and, we are informed, only one bone-in filet can be derived per cow. The rarity of the cut and the technical skill required to prepare it is a big draw for our appetites. The texture of the meat proves soft and supple, while the flavor profile is a subtle exercise in sublimely-aged beef. Taking a cue from Del Frisco Steakhouse’s Southern roots, the steak exudes a slightly seasoned aroma and is cooked with uncommon precision, complementing its corn fed flesh. Once again, our server’s recommendation of a medium rare preparation is a valuable piece of advice that ensures dinner surpasses expectations.
The Australian Lobster Tail is defined by its pillow-like texture and luscious buttery flavor. It arrives with the steak and promptly envelopes us in a haze of rich, mouthwatering steam. Particularly meaty, the tail is splayed across the plate and succeeds in making the portion size abundant enough for two. In the classic tradition, we dip our shellfish in the reduced butter accompaniment and relish in every succulent bite while reveling in the dish’s truly decadent sweetness.
To round out the meal, we choose Potatoes Au Gratin as a side item and are not disappointed. The dish is served with a layer of luscious cheese blanketing the rich potatoes, and is punctuated by sour cream. The potatoes offer a welcome respite from the hearty protein of our Bone-In Filet Mignon and showcase the Chef’s proficiency with carbohydrates.
Like most steakhouses, Del Frisco’s does not take dessert requests lightly. The Bread Pudding is infused with plenty of coconut to ensure an incomparable richness pervades the slice. With a slightly crispy patina of torched sugar layered on top, the dessert proves moist and buttery all the way through.
Our second dessert is the Chocolate Mousse, which is served in a large-mouthed wine glass with raspberries and whip cream. The portion is very large and the chocolate has a refreshingly semi-sweet taste, rather than a cloyingly sweet milk chocolate quality. Both dishes are meant to be shared with the table and make the fitting pair with a cup of steaming hot espresso.
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse brings together the outsized glamour of what classic American fare can achieve, while creating a uniquely intimate evening customized to your taste. In fact, just days after the meal, I arrive home to find a surprise in the mail. I had filled out a comment card at the restaurant along with my check, and waiting in my mailbox is a personally written note from our server thanking me for my patronage. The gesture is above and beyond anything we expected and demonstrates the commitment to quality that Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse reaffirms with every meal.