The old Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House had white tablecloths, wood paneling, low ceilings, old-school comfort and – when it was last reviewed, in 2014 – steaks that were often spectacular.
The new Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, which occupies a glamorous, high-profile corner of the new Cesar Pelli-designed McKinney & Olive development in Uptown, has soaring ceilings, a cascading bronze chandelier that spans two stories, a dramatic suspended staircase, glassed-in display kitchen, expansive views and a 26-ounce, $156 lobster tail that's broiled, served with drawn butter and carved tableside.
What the dazzling 14,000-square-foot flagship for Del Frisco's Restaurant Group does not have are reliably outstanding steaks.
All the steaks and chops I tasted over the course of three visits were carefully seasoned and perfectly cooked, such as a 22-ounce prime bone-in New York strip that came to the table beautifully (and precisely) rare-plus (between rare and medium-rare) as ordered. Its flavor was fine but nothing special – certainly not as remarkable as you'd want in a cut with a $60 price tag. The same went for a 22-ounce bone-in prime ribeye, a 16-ounce prime strip and an $89 32-ounce Wagyu "tomahawk" long-bone ribeye, all wet-aged. Yes, this place (like many other top Dallas steakhouses) is ridiculously expensive.
Curiously, a 16-ounce boneless ribeye had more compelling flavor than the two bone-in ribeyes I sampled the same night, as did a pair of double-cut lamb chops another night. Best of show went to a 3-inch-thick, 16-ounce bone-in filet cooked gorgeously medium-rare with the primal, tangy, fabulous beef flavor you want when you pay these kind of stratospheric prices. All but one of the steaks are a la carte – without sides, which cost from $11 for roasted heirloom cauliflower florets to $17 for lobster mac and cheese. They're generally well-prepared, if not terribly interesting.
The rest of the menu at the glammy new restaurant – where you can see women dressed in sequins in a packed dining room even on a Monday night – rides the middle-ground trends of the last decade, bouncing from Asian-fusion cliché (fried calamari drizzled with sticky-sweet chile glaze, tuna tartare-avocado tower on a puddle of ponzu) to aspirational Mediterranean (grilled-then-chilled marinated octopus with arugula on slightly undercooked gigante beans).
Classic appetizers often just missed, like lobster bisque that had good, rich flavor but came to the table barely warm, or a signature iceberg lettuce and cherry tomato salad draped with perfectly cooked thick-cut bacon and avocado-green goddess dressing poured over. I had to toss it at the table myself: What a mess.
There's a strong focus on seafood. After being underwhelmed by stone crab claws that weren't particularly sweet nor adequately cracked (back into the kitchen they went), and a tasting of six overcooked jumbo shrimp with various sauces, I couldn't bring myself to spend $79.50 of The News' money for a seafood plateau for two. I did spring for $18.50 for half a dozen Onset Bay oysters on the half-shell, and that was money well-spent: The sweet, delicately briny oysters were splendid, and the 1,000-selection wine list includes a number of French whites that work well with them, such as a 2014 Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc for $55.
A 14-ounce South American lobster tail was beautiful when the waiter presented it: Still attached to its deep coral-colored shell, it had been gently browned under the broiler, drizzled with a drawn butter and dusted lightly with chopped parsley. Knowing that the $6 per-ounce entree comes with the offer of tableside carving, I splurged, hoping to find an experience worthy of the glittering surroundings. What kind of fancy knife-work would carving a lobster tail involve?
Using a blade sharp and heavy enough to make mincemeat of an undercooked brisket (wouldn't a butter knife be adequate for tender lobster meat?), our able waiter sliced the tail in half lengthwise, then proceeded to cut it into bite-sized chunks – just as you'd do for a small child or a very old man.
Never have I seen a greater indignity visited on crustacean, server or diner.
Again, it was tender enough, nicely cooked and nowhere near as good as something that costs $84 should be.
Meanwhile, what's up with calling a bowl of barely dressed, underseasoned chilled lump crabmeat a crab Louie? A crab Louie is an actual dish, and that ain't it.
I could understand if chef Tony Schwappach wanted to take creative liberties, as he does with something he calls Maine lobster carbonara: a giant, rich and saucy $39 plate of pappardelle larded with tender lobster morsels, English peas and thick chunks of bacon and topped with a whole five-minute soft-boiled egg. Like so much else at Del Frisco's, the expensive dish was well-prepared, but not something I'd order again. Lobster notwithstanding and even when you unleash the slightly runny yolk into the noodles, it didn't satisfy nearly as much as a well-made traditional spaghetti carbonara does.
Lobster carbonara, lobster cocktail, lobster bisque, lobster mac, lobster tail. Lobster mashed potatoes are a frequent special. What's going on here?
If I didn't know better, I'd suspect that someone was trying to attract attention away from the lackluster steaks.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House (2 stars)
Service: Attentive, professional and generally excellent at the tables. Requests for patrons' cell phone numbers from the valet (to retrieve your car more quickly) and at the hostess stand ("In case you forget anything") felt intrusive.
Ambience: Glamorous dining rooms and bars on two floors with soaring ceilings, a dramatic curved staircase, a scuptural chandelier spanning both floors and a well-heeled clientele that might show up in anything from T-shirts to sequins.
Noise level: Not as loud as one might fear in such a busy, high-ceilinged space. Tables upstairs in the less-dramatic (yet still attractive) upstairs dining room seemed quietest; it's also relatively easy to converse in the downstairs booths along the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Best dishes: Atlantic oysters on the half-shell, lobster bisque, bone-in filet, double-cut lamb chops, butter cake.
Location: Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, 2323 Olive St., Dallas; 972-490-9000
Hours: Dinner Monday-Saturday 5 to 11 p.m., Sunday 5 to 10 p.m.; lunch Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Credit cards: All major
Wheelchair accessible: Yes, with two wheelchair spots at the ground-floor bar, and two wheelchair spots at the upstairs bar, which is accessible by elevator.
Alcohol: Full bar, with a usual-suspects roundup of house cocktails and a pricey 1,000-selection wine list focused on California and French vintages.
5 stars: Extraordinary
4 stars: Excellent
3 stars: Very good
2 stars: Good
1 star: Fair
No stars: Poor
Average dinner per person
$ – $14 and under
$$ – $15 to $30
$$$ – $31 to $50
$$$$ – More than $50