DEL FRISCO’S GRILLE
3376 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta
1 of 5 stars
We should be zipping around in little aero-cars that compact themselves into miniature briefcases when we land. We should have robots attending to our every whim. We should be wielding our outstretched index fingers to push endless hidden panels of buttons that send contraptions rushing forth to manage our daily tasks. Welcome to our utopian future as foretold by the popular cartoon of my childhood, “The Jetsons.”
I may not need a whirling remote-controlled device to wash my face, brush my teeth and style my hair (OK, maybe just for the hair), but occasionally I’d like to have one of those buttons to alter my reality. I find myself wishing for such a button at Del Frisco’s Grille, the restaurant in the Buckhead space that once housed Craft Atlanta.
After valet-parking my car ($2), I left the daytime sun to enter a darkened space that contrasts shiny-black brick walls with a glowing-red bar lighting structure that extends all the way up to the second floor ceiling. Giant oversized red shades hang at regular intervals throughout the downstairs seating area.
It’s at lunch that I’d waggle my finger over the button that would set a series of panels in motion to let some daylight in. In the evening, the decor feels less stark, more appropriate for a lively bar and social crowd.
It also may be more appropriate for a male crowd than a Buckhead ladies’ lunch, with big-screen televisions tuned to ESPN, waitresses dressed in high-cut shorts and patterned fishnet tights, and the large-lettered quote “Do right and feed every man” stenciled over one of the glass-enclosed wine rooms.
The masculine feel likely stems from the company’s original concept, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. Del Frisco’s Grille, an offshoot, has opened six locations across the country, with more in the works.
Each location’s menu includes regional favorites using locally sourced ingredients. In Atlanta, executive chef A.J. Buchanio brings in ice cream from Atlanta-based High Road, grits from Anson Mills and Allan Benton’s country ham. Unfortunately, the recipes don’t always do these ingredients justice.
To make the Atlanta menu unique and “Southern,” pimento cheese peppers the offerings. It surfaces in the fritters ($9), too-perfect little spheres with double breading that crack open with a gush of the melted orange Southern delicacy. It also tops the cheeseburger ($15), the cayenne-spiced mixture being the saving grace for two thin, gray patties.
Likewise, the hummus ($9), which has a gentle purple hue, is made of black-eyed peas and comes with a mixture of sweet and sour house-pickled veggies like okra, cauliflower and carrots. Those same pickled veggies bob in Mason jars lining one of the black-lacquered walls, an interesting juxtaposition.
Sticking to the Southern theme are the deviled eggs with a sweet relish topping ($7), extra creamy shrimp and grits ($26), and the grit cakes ($10). Though made of grits, the cakes, served Buffalo-style, are a little more inspired. The grits make the perfect vehicle to mop up the creamy swirl of hot sauce, avocado ranch and blue cheese crumbles.
Southern clichés aside, snag an order of tomato flatbread ($12) for the table to share. The cheesy grown-up pizza will leave your fingers greasy and satisfy your nosh needs far more than the bland, dried-out chicken pesto flatbread ($14).
You might be tempted by the French onion dip with the housemade chips ($8). That is, until you taste the globby, powdered-onion-soup-like creation. You could just nibble the beautiful cross-cut kettle chips, which would be perfect if they weren’t cold enough to leave a coating of grease on the roof of your mouth. Maybe you won’t notice if you’re exploring the hefty wine list or sipping one of the sticky-sweet cocktails like the VIP, a Hawaiian pineapple-infused clementine vodka ($11).
The rest of the menu is not as red meat-dominant as you might expect, given the restaurant’s steakhouse sister.
Four prime steaks are featured, including the sliced New York strip ($29), which comes with a sweet but fresh-cut tomato-and-balsamic medley. The same well-cooked strip comes atop the steakhouse salad ($18), a mass of reedy watercress and smudgy blue-cheese-ish dressing.
But Del Frisco’s also hopes to satisfy seafood cravings with options like the sole Francese ($28), one of four seafood selections. The fish, encased in a slippery breading, comes topped with jumbo lump crab and is bested by the bright, lemony arugula salad served on the side.
If you hang in there for dessert, you’ll be thankful for High Road. After an interminable wait for the Nutella-less Nutella bread pudding ($8), it was the coffee ice cream we snarfed. Our server informed us the delay was due to the three attempts required to make the dessert, likely because it lacked the binding to meld it into the custardy pudding we craved. Uncooperative bread cubes just toppled right out of formation.
We still have 50 years to catch up to life in George Jetson’s 2062 world, where we can change our reality with the push of a button. In the meantime, just order mindfully and know what to expect for your evening out at Del Frisco’s Grille.
DEL FRISCO’S GRILLE
Overall rating: 1 of 5 stars
Food: American comfort fare with Southern touches
Service: friendly and helpful
Best dishes: grit cakes, tomato flatbread
Vegetarian selections: appetizers, flatbreads, salads, sides
Price range: $$$-$$$$
Credit cards: all major credit cards
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Children: not the best place for kids
Wheelchair access: yes
Noise level: moderate to high
Address, phone: 3376 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-537-2828.