Fort Worth already reveres Del Frisco’s — the formal, fatherly, gold-standard steakhouse on the southern edge of downtown. Now diners are crushing on its offspring — the hipper, more gregarious, more casual Del Frisco’s Grille.
Part of the allure is its sparkling setting, on the inside edge of the brand spanking new Sundance Square Plaza, with a primo view of the action outside. Make that reservation — the joint was full and hopping on a recent Tuesday night.
Once inside, the long, narrow space building feels deceptively shotgun-style; in reality, it’s a two-story restaurant (including a patio) that spans nearly 11,000 square feet in the square’s Commerce Building.
It’s hard not to stare when you step inside. The interior is wrapped in earth tones and warm wood, balanced by a hit of industrial cool, making for a space that is contemporary and inviting. There’s a variety of seating, too — tables, booths, a community table that seats 12, a long bar that seats 30, three private dining areas.
We were seated in a booth with a view — on one side, you could see directly into the buzzing exhibition kitchen; on the other, you could people-watch out into the square.
On the menu, you’ll find plenty of daddio’s signature steaks, but you’ll find a few price points at this mini-chain.
Starters are grouped under a category of “Food to Fight Over,” and feature everything from deviled eggs with truffle-chive vinaigrette ($7.50) to ahi tuna tacos ($14.50). The flatbreads should be a popular item; they range from $12 to $14.50 for a garlic shrimp flatbread with chorizo, mozzarella, cilantro pesto and pickled red chile.
Tempting, but we couldn’t resist a few items exclusive to the Fort Worth menu, starting with the pepperjack tamales ($12). Gorgeously presented in a bamboo steamer, the tamales were topped with chorizo, queso fresco, diced tomato and matchsticked tortilla crisps. Luscious and velvety, these tamales nearly melted in your mouth. Heck, they nearly made us sing to the heavens. The chorizo and pepperjack gave them just the right kick. Worth mulling: Are such blissful tamales, if not a shot across the bow, a playful nod to Reata, their downtown competitor, renowned for its tamales?
For the main event, we did a little surf and turf — I ordered shrimp and grits ($26), and my dining companion got the prime chicken-fried rib-eye ($30) — another Cowtown-only item. We also wanted to try one of the sides, a la carte and family-style, so we opted for an order of the sea salt and Parmesan frites ($7).
The shrimp and grits are officially now among our favorites in DFW; five perfectly cooked shrimp sat atop a bed of grits so white and creamy that at first we thought they goofed and gave us whipped potatoes. The grits, delectable on their own, were topped with tasso pan gravy, bumping the proceedings up a notch. But executive chef Russ Huey raises the bar even higher, by balancing the saltiness of the gravy with the brightness of a note-perfect basil-infused olive oil. Score one for surf.
As for the turf, the chicken-fried rib-eye was a hit. The 8-ounce, thin-cut, pounded steak looked mammoth (indeed, we took half of it home). Ladled with chorizo gravy, this was a fine, kicked-up rendition of CFS.
Things appeared to be running like clockwork in the new restaurant, which opened its doors Oct. 29. Our waiter was knowledgeable and impeccably polished, and on a packed night, had the uncanny knack for appearing every time we needed him, without hovering.
The only relative disappointments of our meal were spud-related; the sea salt and Parmesan frites were just ordinary. Same went for the basic skin-on mashed potatoes that accompanied the steak.
Del Frisco’s Grille finished strong. Though the coconut cream pie was tempting, we shared a slice of the multi-tiered lemon doberge cake ($10.50). Moist, with just the right blend of lemony and buttery, this was a confection worth fighting over.
The Fort Worth Del Frisco’s Grille is the chain’s ninth — a Dallas location opened in 2012, and Southlake’s is coming soon — but DFG is the first restaurant to open in Sundance Square Plaza. And it sets a relaxed, elegant tone for things to come.