I went to parties at two of the higher-end chains last week, the opening of a Del Frisco’s Grille’s location (Stamford, CT), and a pairing dinner celebrating Ruth’s Chris Steak House’s 50th Anniversary (Tarrytown, NY). We don’t have too many chains around where I live, so it’s always fun for me to see what they’re doing with food and signature drinks firsthand.
This was my first visit to a Del Frisco’s Grille so I wasn’t sure to expect. It’s hard to tell from an opening night VIP event, but the team was ready and handled the crowd with ease. There was plenty of food passed around by waitstaff so we never went hungry, and servers were quick to ask if you wanted another drink. The space is huge and it was super loud, but then it was packed for the party.
My colleague and I loved The VIP Martini, with sweet Hawaiian Gold pineapple-infused Svedka Clementine vodka. I saw several guests drinking Mules (traditional Moscow and a Dutch version (with Nolet’s Silver gin and grapefruit instead of vodka and lime) and other cocktails, but we stuck primarily to prosecco after our VIPs. The Cheesesteak Eggrolls were a favorite appetizer, and we liked the Lollipop Chicken Wings. The best was the Grille Prime Cheeseburger, and I don’t even care that much about burgers.
Ruth’s Chris held a 1965 Cocktail Party Dinner as part of its golden anniversary this year. I’d been to the kick off celebration—a Veuve Cliquot Champagne dinner—in the spring. The first course was Fresh Kabocha Squash & Garbanzo Bean Salad paired with The Gold Standard, made with prosecco, Bulleit bourbon, Cointreau and house-made cardamom syrup. This was my favorite cocktail and I thought the best pairing.
Another course, Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops with Soy-Orange Glaze, Red Lentils and Shaved Fennel, was paired with Strawberry Basil Gimlet featuring Ketel One Oranje vodka, fresh lime juice, strawberry and fresh basil. I enjoyed the cocktail, and understand the basil and fennel match but I think this was a tougher course to pair.
The Grilled Ginger Shrimp with Maple Glazed Bacon and Pickled Sweet and Hot Peppers, paired with Royal Street Gin & Tonic (Tanqueray, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, fresh rosemary and a splash of tonic), was a hit; it made me wonder why I don’t drink Gin and Tonics more.
The Port of Manhattan cocktail, with Bulleit 10 Year bourbon, Fonseca Bin 27 Reserve ruby port and fresh blackberries, held up to the main course of Filet Mignon with Cabernet Sauvignon, Sherry and Port Onion Reduction, served with Garlic Sautéed Broccolini and Ruth’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes. It was a little strange to not have red wine with a steak, though.
Finally, dessert of a s’mores inspired Chocolate Espresso Torte (Mocha Ganache with Dark Chocolate Graham Cracker Bark) was paired with Spiked, Spiced & Iced Coffee. Made with Baileys Original Irish Cream, Bulleit bourbon and chilled coffee, the drink wasn’t as potent as it sounds, and it was delicious—that would have been dessert enough for me. Of course I ate the torte too.