Del Frisco's Grille
772 Spectrum Center Dr.
Irvine, CA 92618
I'm a big fan of New Years Day. I know it's a new beginning and all that stuff, but that's not why I like the first day of the year. I love New Years because it signals the end of the holiday season. I work a retail job, and the holidays bring in people that never shop for food. It's like they have never been to a supermarket all throughout the year. They forget how to read price tags, they sit there for hours choosing what kind of butter to buy, and customers stress out like they have never made this holiday dinner before, even though these recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. Yes, the holidays are not my favorite times.
So when New Years Eve rolls around, I like to celebrate that I made it through another holiday season with a great dinner. Usually it's just me and Katie, but this year her parents joined us at the Irvine Spectrum. If you haven't been to the Spectrum lately, you might be surprised to see how many new restaurants were added to this shopping center. There's the new grilled cheese spot, The Melt, a brick and mortar version of the Lime Truck, which is shortened to TLT Food, Umami Burger now has a spot near the recently relocated Improv, and there's also a new Italian restaurant, Brio Tuscan Grille, which is right next to our dining destination on this evening, Del Frisco's Grill.
Del Frisco's Grille, or as the cool kids call it, DFG, comes to us from the same restaurant group that runs Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, which has it's closest location to OC in Las Vegas. I haven't been there, but it's definitely on our list. Del Frisco's Grille describes itself on their website as a modern take on the bar and grill concept, but taken to the next level. We were excited to experience this firsthand on one of my favorite nights of the year.
I had made reservations a few days prior to New Years Eve, but the restaurant had plenty of tables available when we arrived at 7pm. As the night went on, the restaurant did fill up, but I'm sure walk-ins were still welcomed. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of DFG. It felt to me like an upscale, Vegas coffee shop. The restaurant had a wonderful wall of wine display as you enter the restaurant, and there's plenty of dining area in this 8,000 square foot space. The dinner menu has enough diversity to satisfy most diners. Let's see if we would leave DFG satisfied or not.
DFG came across our radar when we visited the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival, where they were sampling these Ahi Tacos ($17.50). Katie's been thinking of these since that September day. These mini tuna tacos come with fresh avocado and a spicy citrus mayo. I liked these a little better when we had them the first time. Still they were good, but the tuna seemed a little fresher back in September. Katie still was enamored with these. She likes the citrus flavor of the mayo, and the contrast between the creaminess of the avocado and the slight spiciness of the mayo. I liked the crunch of the sturdy taco shells here.
One of the most talked about appetizers at DFG are these Cheesesteak Eggrolls ($13). These seemed misnamed to me. I did not really get a cheesesteak kind of feel from these. Don't get me wrong, they were pretty good though. They came topped with a honey mustard sauce, and placed on top of a sweet and spicy chili sauce, two sauces that do not bring to mind cheesesteaks. They came out piping hot, and I would have liked to have had the chili sauce in a ramekin for easier dipping. I may forgo these for the crab cake on my next visit to DFG.
Katie's dad Dennis was not feeling either of the two appetizers that we had, so he ordered this Corn Chowder ($7.50). Joining the corn chowder in the cup was some bacon crumbles, crab meat, and a small potato chip for texture. The bite I had of this seemed pretty sweet, but Dennis thought the inclusion of the crab kind of put the sweetness in check. He's a soup connoisseur, and he gave this corn chowder his seal of approval.
Our entrees started making their way out to us, and the first one to hit the table was Katie's selection, the DFG Chicken Alfredo ($18). I did not get a chance to try this, but it looked real good from across the table. Pappardelle pasta is used here, along with sauteed spinach, and a very good Parmesan garlic cream sauce. Katie also added chicken to this dish to round it out. She was pretty happy with this, exclaiming that she will probably get this on future visits here.
Dennis was taken by surprise by his dinner on this evening, when this Prime Beef Short Rib Stroganoff ($29) was placed in front of him. This is not your mothers stroganoff. DFG is known for their meats, and this short rib came out perfectly, but Dennis was expecting it to be in pieces, not all in one hunk. Nevertheless, it was tender, and had a pot roast quality to it. I liked that it went easy on the sour cream sauce, and the onion strings added a nice texture component. A much better version of a classic dish that we all grew up with.
Lynn kind of threw me for a loop by ordering this Wild Mushroom Flatbread ($15). Kind of out of character for her, but she seemed to really enjoy this. This flatbread came topped with Fontina cheese, caramelized onions, baby arugula, and of course mushrooms. This was a pretty good sized flatbread just for Lynn, so I got to try it as well. There was not an abundance of toppings here, but just the right amount. The crust had a good chew to it, the mushrooms provided an earthiness, and the cheese, while not added with a heavy hand, melded well in the background. This even had me, a meat fanatic, thinking this flatbread was pretty solid.
It was special night, so I decided to have the Veal Meatloaf ($19). This meatloaf had a little spice to it. The veal was of course very tender, but the Bordelaise sauce kind of overpowered it. Still a really good dish, which was rounded out by mashed potatoes, and a couple of wild mushrooms. A very nice meal to end the year with.
By this time of night we were getting pretty full, and I knew we would probably not make it to see 2015 come in at midnight, so we decided to indulge one last time by splitting a dessert. The Coconut Cream Pie ($10.50) came highly recommended from our waiter, so we got one to share. This light coconut cream pie was topped with curls of white chocolate. I liked this lighter than expected dessert. It was not overly sweet, the cream did not punch you in the face with coconut, and the graham cracker crust held thing together well. Maybe a little too much white chocolate on this, but you can never complain about too much chocolate.
All in all, Del Frisco's Grill was a good way to end our 2014 culinary journey. No, it's not the best restaurant that we ate at all year, but it was solidly good. I look forward to coming back again and trying one of their steaks, or maybe their burger, which has gotten some very good press. The service we experienced on this night could not have been better. Our waiter, (sorry I forgot your name), was right on top of everything, without being intrusive. Everyone we encountered on this night really seemed like they wanted to be here to ensure that their guests had a great experience, which is a minor feat on a party night like this. Glad I could spend the last meal of the year with some of my favorite people. Now bring on 2015.
Out of five footballs, (because DFG's corporate headquarters are located in Southlake, Texas, which is home to many current and former Dallas Cowboy players), five being best to zero being worst, Del Frisco's Grille gets 3 strong footballs.
For more information about Del Frisco's Grille, go to their website here: http://delfriscosgrille.com/