First Impressions: Del Frisco’s Grille

Back story: The Del Frisco’s steakhouse chain (13 locations) has spun off a bar-and-grill chain, Del Frisco’s Grille (24 locations), with the newest one at Brookfield Place. The prices are a bit lower at the Grille, and there’s more emphasis on the bar.

The atmosphere: Imagine a chain restaurant at a mall, but a nice one, and you’re probably seeing something close to Del Frisco’s Grille—a lot of wood, some industrial touches, an exposed ceiling…. The first floor is dominated by a large rectangular bar, with booths along the walls and windows. Upstairs, where there are no TVs, is more pleasant. And the outside seating is plentiful, if underdecorated. Wherever you sit, you could be anywhere—which might be the point. A group of men who looked like golfers walked in while my friend Lisa and I were having lunch. “You can see the relief on their faces,” said Lisa. “They’re thinking, Maybe New York City isn’t all that bad….

The menus: The menu appears to be the same at lunch and dinner: standard American fare, with a couple of outliers. (Beef Stroganoff?!) There’s language about how “our chefs source local ingredients whenever possible,” and if you buy that, I’ll throw in a bridge.

Room for improvement: At lunch, I found it decidedly generic, the kind of corporate restaurant I avoid unless I have a long layover. We didn’t get off to a good start: The hostess announced she’d leave the wine list on the table, but I said we wouldn’t be needing it; she said she’d just leave it anyway, and I had to explain that we don’t drink (which was true in the moment). Then came the server’s upsell about “fan favorites” on the menu, including the cheesesteak egg rolls. (“Those words don’t belong together,” said Lisa. “It’s like ‘President Trump.'”) I ordered the steak salad, but without the steak, asking for extra deviled eggs instead. I got one more egg—for a total of two, and they were weirdly dry—making the $27 salad a crummy deal. Perhaps because she wasn’t critiquing the restaurant, or footing the bill, Lisa had come with a totally different attitude, and she liked her seared Asian tuna salad well enough.

Gold star: But is it fair to blame a restaurant for being what it is, instead of what you’d prefer it to be? When I went back on my own for dinner, after stopping by Target, I pretended to be someone else. I installed myself at the bar, had a gin and tonic, and watched the game. Happily, the sound wasn’t on, so I could enjoy “Easy Lover,” which I hadn’t heard in so long. Managing not to pull a face when the bartender recommended the cheesesteak egg rolls, I ordered the wedge salad and the steak sandwich, because the alterna-me can’t resist a French dip. The salad was heavy on the cheese and bacon; the fries were hotter than at lunch; and stale bread is no problemo when you’re dunking the sandwich into the jus. Occasionally, the real me would break through, and start imagining ways the company value-engineers the experience: A paper cone makes an order of fries look larger; a heavy wine glass feels like a more substantial pour; skipping the taste when a glass of wine is ordered saves money in the long run. But then “America’s Funniest Home Videos” came on, and a groom got kicked in the nuts. Funny! A server walked by with the burger—it looked pretty good. My alter ego bristled at many of the prices, but I have to assume that the steaks ($49-$65, with sides extra) are meant for those with non-blogger expense accounts.

Anything else? Why do restaurants persist in parking bar stools at an oblique angle? Are we supposed to sit that way?

Del Frisco’s Grille is in Brookfield Place at 250 Vesey (between West St. and North End Ave.); 212-786-0760; delfriscosgrille.com.

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9 Comments

  1. Depressing. On a side note, when did wedge salads come back in style?

  2. I felt like I was at Roosevelt Field Mall eating at Bennigans. The music was unbearable. Very disappointed neighbor.

  3. Had food from there twice – 1 take out & 1 inside. Both were just fine. No different than any other Del Frisco’s or really any other place in Brookfield Place for that matter. Certainly not some cool new discovery but more than solid for what & where it is IMO. Don’t understand all the handwringing… but to each their own.

  4. Can we please get more reviews by “alterna-me”?!?

    How annoyed you were to be asked to use chopsticks at Brushstroke, or complaining how the table next to you is underdressed for dinner at Bâtard?

  5. I’ve probably been to pretty much every steakhouse around and del friscos is in my top three. not sure why all the hate.

  6. I’ve eaten there three times and found the food to be quite tasty, for what it is. It’s clearly not meant to be fine dining and that’s not what I was in the mood for when I went. And, for those to whom the concept would be appealing, the cheesesteak egg rolls were really good. The service levels, which started out shaky the first week they were open understandably, have continued to improve.

  7. I love Tribeca Trib but this is one of the snarkiest reviews I’ve ever read. Who orders a steak salad without the steak?? As a previous reviewer said, it is what it is. I’ve eaten there 3 times. The wait staff is extremely nice and even remembered our names. All our food was good. All nyc restaurants are too noisy and expensive…but I still love New York. And actually the cheesesteak eggrolls (admittedly I agree:weird sounding) were good.

  8. I forgot to mention I found the waitresses skirts to be more like Hooters. They should be offered an alternative outfit to wear. The guys have shirts and ties on. The women our dressed like bartenders in a strip club.

  9. Sorry about that Tribeca Citizen!…not Trib.

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