It doesn’t take much for me to find a few things on a menu that I like.
I think the same probably holds true for most people who enjoy eating out. If there’s an equation to making us happy when it comes to dining in restaurants the formula tends to include a combination of: nice atmosphere, friendly staff, and great food. If high school math were that simple from start to finish, I wouldn’t have slept through the majority of it. My education struggles aside, I’m finding more and more restaurants are taking on that very equation. Less of the razzle-dazzle and attention grabbing and more of a focus on what’s important: the food. A restaurant that I found does just that was Del Frico’s Grille in Pasadena.
I’ve been to the restaurant to try their brunch in Santa Monica, but this was my first time visiting their Pasadena location and sampling their dinner menu. With my friend Sara and her daughter Lily along for the visit, I was eager to experience a few items from their dinner menu.
It didn’t take long for the first few plates to arrive and even a shorter amount of time for our forks to dig into them. Two appetizers arrived to the table and there was a clear winner for me. The first was the Roasted Baby Beets ($10.50) and the second was the Artichoke Beignets ($14). The round yellow beets with sliced burgundy beets sat on top of whipped feta and drizzled with a light sherry vinaigrette. As much as I wanted to love the beets, the bitterness within them is simply a flavor that I can’t always get behind. Some restaurants convince me that I like them while others remind me that I don’t. At Del Frisco’s Grille, it was the latter. Although I wasn’t a fan of the beets, I was the biggest cheerleader for the artichoke beignets. The golden brown beignets came with fontina, were sprinkled with Parmesan, and paired with a sweet basil dressing. They were nicely fried with a delicious texture that varied smoothly from the exterior to the interior. The creamy basil dressing simply enhanced the artichokes to a point that I wished I had more. Ultimately, I loved every part of this dish until it was gone.
Once the beets and beignets were removed from the table, the Pan-Seared Scallops ($34) took the empty space. A large plate of scallops sat with goat cheese polenta underneath a handful of blistered tomato chermoula, and pine nut gremolata. While I loved the gentle scallops that were casually seasoned I didn’t care much for the style of polenta. The goat cheese gave more of a sour taste to the polenta that I couldn’t find myself enjoying with each bite. If it were an option where it could have been removed, I would have imagined it to be a perfect dish.
Once the scallops were gone, the two entrees were the new focus. The first was the Coffee Braised Pork Shank ($28.50). An oversized shank was smothered with bacon ends, toasted sea island red peas, and collards. Diving my fork into it, the meat easily fell off the bone. I couldn’t say that there was a recognizable coffee accent to it all but it remained succulent and well-seasoned overall. To make it more exciting, it was swimming in a sea of its own richness turning it into a plate that would be easy to enjoy.
Not to be forgotten, the Bone In Prime Rib with Asparagus ($44, 18oz) was a great decision. The plate was simple and straight to the point with a very minimal presentation. A medium-rare cut of steak carried the epitome of juiciness with the most delightful skin. Slicing through the prime rib showcased an extremely tender piece of meat that was impossible to resist. Did I try to resist it? Of course not, I finished it and the perfect asparagus that came with it.
To bring the dinner to an end, Sara and I had dessert. We ordered the Salted Caramel Pudding Jar ($9) with whipped cream. As a disclaimer, there was a small piece of plastic or Styrofoam that I found within the pudding. I brought it to the attention of the manager who let me know that it was most likely a piece of the wrapping. That wasn’t in the description. Hopefully if you order it, you won’t find the plastic surprise. That aside, I did eat it and it was amazing. It was smooth and creamy and the saltiness caused me to go for more after each bite.
At the end of the dinner it was clear that I found a few favorites: the artichoke beignets and the prime rib were solid dishes, and the removal of a single aspect would have made the pudding a winner, but it too came pretty close. I appreciate the way Del Frisco’s Grille has a few menu items that are simple and delicious making them perfect to fall in love with. Was that the right equation to create a good dining experience? It definitely was.
- Friendly staff
- Nice restaurant
- Delicious food
- Surprise in pudding
- Can be pricey