Del Frisco’s Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue (one of two in the DMV area, the other is in Bethesda and there’s the Double Eagle Steakhouse in D.C., too) unleashed some serious mid-summer secret weapons this past week in the form of an updated sangria recipe and a killer cocktail known as “Youth Serum,” as well as some creative and inspired takes on a style of food that can best be described as “American etc.”.
Let’s start with the main event: the sangria. Though Del Frisco’s has always had a classic white peach sangria, they’ve revamped the drink with a tiny strawberry mango popsicle about the size of an ice cube served on a stick in your drink, possibly to help their patrons cope with the fact that DC, despite being a city, is really nothing but a sticky hell swamp in the summer. It almost helps you forget a little. It’s as strong as it is pretty, and the popsicle bleeds color into the drink so that by the time it melts a little your white sangria has turned pink. Nice trick.
On top of the sangria is an all new cocktail called the Youth Serum, a bittersweet lemon and cucumber infused vodka. We got a demonstration of how it’s made by one of the bartenders at the press event. It tasted kind of like a cold Lemonhead candy with a hint of cucumber, so be warned if you’re one of those people who can’t do Sour Patch Kids.
Onto the food– for some reason Del Frisco’s JUST added guacamole and chips to their menu. This would normally be cause for suspicion (what place that’s making upscale American food doesn’t offer a signature guac?) but after trying it I found out why it took so long. They were perfecting the art of guacamole. This is some DAMN GOOD GUAC! If you like that weird, thin prepackaged supermarket guacamole you will hate Del Frisco’s version which is basically whole avocado pieces with an appropriate tomato ratio that tastes so fresh. The chips were good but I didn’t really care because they were just a vehicle for that sweet guac.
Thankfully, the chips were not the only guac vehicle that evening, as it was also featured on a weird little fried wonton taco shell along with some tuna tartare topped with spicy mayo. Good if you like full mouthfuls of raw tuna.
In another Asian-inspired but very, very American move, Del Frisco’s offered what the very kind staff described as “Cheesesteak Eggrolls” because that was what they were. Each mini eggroll had an outer shell that was a cute little deep fried home for thinly sliced steak and American cheese (as cheesesteaks do) topped with sweet and spicy sauce and honey mustard. I don’t know why it worked but it did.
Also offered was a plate of homemade kettle chips dripping with blue cheese sauce and topped with crumbled blue cheese. I don’t like blue cheese but I love kettle chips, so I sacrificed my taste aversion and dove in. It was warm but not gooey and not as messy as I expected, and the saltiness of the chips worked to combat the musk (how gross is it that I used that word and applied it to cheese) of the blue cheese. It was actually pretty enjoyable, and even if you’re on team “blue cheese is gross” I would still recommend.
Last on the appetizer front was a trio of flatbreads, which are just a way to describe pizza to make it sound appropriate for and upscale-casual restaurant like Del Frisco’s. Even though they were pizzas, they were upscale pizzas. The best by far was the one featuring wild mushrooms (four different types) with caramelized onions and arugula. If someone told me that I could eat this every day and still be a vegetarian, I would really consider it before gently declining. The runners up were the spicy pork meatball and sausage and pepperoni, in that order. The second was a little too spicy for those not expecting it.
The evening was rounded out by personalized versions of their six layer lemon cake. I don’t know how many layers were in the one that they gave us, but it was plenty. The buttercream was rich enough that you could feel the sugar grind against your teeth as you dug in (in the best way possible), and the cake itself was super sweet but not heavy at all.
Del Frisco’s seems like a nice place to take your coworkers for an after-work drinks and apps combo, like an Applebee’s for successful people who care about the quality of their food.