The script is set, but menu needs work
By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012
The space left dark by Les Halles has finally been filled, and its replacement from Dallas can’t be faulted for aiming to please. Never have there been fewer than four smiling faces to welcome me to Del Frisco’s
Grille, where no fewer than three managers introduced themselves to me during recent meals.
If you need validation, check out the sprawl.
Be careful ordering, though. The surf-and-turf import from the Lone Star State manages to touch on a lot of wishes without mastering many. Oysters on the half shell are so scrawny and tired, we leave half of them on their bed of ice. A mash of black-eyed peas with a fan of tasteless crackers and vinegar-soaked vegetables goes back to the kitchen largely untouched. Why both starters are billed on the menu as “Food to Fight Over” eludes me. “Two-Fisted Eats” include ordinary crab sliders and a dry lamb burger, both flanked with what taste like factory-sprouted french fries, while the supposedly “prime” New York strip steak confounds us with its lack of flavor.
Rob Klink, the former chef at Oceanaire Seafood Room, is off to a choppy start. His cause is unaided by servers who relentlessly push designer water and appetizers and appear to be mouthing lines from a corporate script.
More to my liking: tacos fat with tuna and striped with citrusy mayo, and a golden schnitzel pounded from chicken. The latter, an entree with increasing chef appeal, comes with a lemon-butter sauce and a clutch of broad noodles that would improve with a bit more time in hot water. Among the “Happy Endings” is a true-tasting six-layer lemon cake.
Dominating the center of the room, set off with burnt-orange chairs and awful art, is a triangular bar engulfed at night with suits (and the skirts they no doubt hope to meet). For the best people-watching, ask for a table on the raised floor near the exposed kitchen; for more privacy, request the dining room walled in wine.
And for the sake of your hearing, bring along earplugs. The volume of the music is set for Texas, too.