It starts with the intoxicating aroma, a heady fragrance that prompts customers to lift their noses as they walk through the restaurant’s doors, writes restaurant critic Pam George. Instantly, diners picture an icy martini, raw oysters, a snappy salad and a baked potato split open and waiting for pools of butter and a confetti of chives. Then there’s the main event: a thick steak spilling pink juices onto the white porcelain plate. Decades of culinary tradition have instilled the classic steak dinner into our memories. It’s the feast that has fueled both romance and high-powered business deals. Steak has survived health crazes and diet fads. Even the economy hasn’t touched the craving for this luxury item. Though most restaurants now offer steak on their menus, some make steak the priority. Here’s an example of what makes each place special: “Steak” may not appear in the name of Harry’s Savoy Grill, but no one who visits Harry’s doubts that red meat is a main focus. Despite cosmetic upgrades over the years, the dining room still puts the prime rib-carving station on prominent display, and prime rib remains Harry’s signature dish. No one-trick pony, Harry’s—founded in 1988—has pioneered trends involving chicken, pork and seafood. Today the restaurant also applies its creative license to steak dishes. Every few weeks, the presentation changes. The 18-ounce bone-in Black Angus sirloin, for instance, may come with olive oil-poached potatoes and a red onion marmalade, made with onions smoked in applewood chips that were bathed with bourbon. Order the 12-ounce New York sirloin strip, and you may get a pretty package. Cut in half, the meat sandwiches a tri-color pepper salsa. Spritz the steak with the grilled lime that’s provided, and turn up the heat with a chorizo-scallion pancake. Even the burgers here receive special attention. Take a seat at the new communal table in the “grill” side of the restaurant for a steak burger, made from pasture-fed cattle from a Unionville, Pa., farm. Forget the American cheese. This baby comes with Swiss cheese and an apple-fennel remoulade. For the rest, click here.
The Gallic Gourmet
Hug your inner Julie Child during Dinner at a French Bistro at the Hotel du Pont on Oct. 26. Bring your appetite for adventure to learn French culinary classics with executive sous chef Dave Lattomus, followed by classic bistro fare served in the Lobby Lounge, paired with some of France’s finest value wines. The menu will include black pepper pommes frittes, salade nicoise and veal Francaisse. The $69 admission includes a cooking demonstration, dinner and recipe guide. And don’t forget that the Green Room recently started a fabulous offering for early diners. Visit Monday through Thursday between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. for the three-course early eating menu. Price: $35. It’s a bargain price for dining on fresh, seasonally inspired food by Lattomus and chef Keith Miller served on Versace china while seated in cozy wingback chairs. We’re in. 594-3154, hoteldupont.com
Did You Know?
If ever you’re looking for a restaurant in Philadelphia, DT knows all. Simply go to our website, pull down the “restaurants” tab on the upper menu, then click “Philadelphia Restaurant Guide” at the bottom. All will be revealed. Here’s an example of what you’ll find: “ Celebrating our 40th Anniversary, Le Bec-Fin marks a renewed spark in the jewel that sits atop Philadelphia’s culinary crown. As a winner of the five-star Mobil Travel Guide award for 26 years, and a seasoned holder of AAA’s Five Diamond rating for 18 years, Le Bec-Fin promises an unforgettable dining experience with a new twist. The 35th anniversary year marked many highlights including the knighting of Chef Georges Perrier into the National Order of Merit from the Republic of France. Reinvigorated by many new beginnings Chef Perrier continues demonstrating his extraordinary culinary abilities by regularly creating new recipes. His belief in continuous transformation and commitment to perfection, combined with a passionate and dedicated staff makes Le Bec-Fin a famed culinary landmark that provides a cherished experience to all who enter its doors.” Or just click here.
The Best of the Fests
Plan now to attend the third annual Delaware Wine and Beer Festival on Oct. 21. The event gets better every year. This version happens at the Delaware Agricultural Museum & Village on Dupont Highway in Dover. Meet vintners and brewers from Delaware and beyond. Talk about their locations, their products and their processes. Who will be there? So far: Argilla Brewing Company, 16 Mile Brewery, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Fenwick Wine Cellars, Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company, Harvest Ridge Winery, Great Shoals Winery of Princess Anne, Md. (featuring Black Twig Hard Apple Cider from T.S. Smith’s Farm in Bridgeville), Legacy Distilling, Nassau Valley Vineyards, Pizzadili Winery & Vineyards, Twin Lakes Brewery, Unplugged & Uncorked Sonata Wines, Yards Brewing Company of Philadelphia. New location. Great food. Better drink. And more fun than you can stand. Be there. 734-4888, dewineandbeer.visitdover.com
Not Your Average Wine Dinner
This at the Stone Balloon Winehouse in Newark: Four Course Wine Dinner on Oct. 18. Food by executive chef Andrew Matulaitis, wine from the Pacific Northwest. Your menu: crispy mushroom roll with miso lobster bisque paired with 2008 Argyle Brut (Willamette Valley, Oregon) followed by quick-smoked salmon on toasted bagel with panzanella salad, tomato, charred lemon emulsion, bacon powder, all served with 2010 Canoe Ridge Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, Washington). Course three features braised pork cheeks with pickled octopus, white bean and ponzu aioli, crispy kale served with 2009 Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills, Oregon), then roasted elk loin with potato confit, sweet onions, chanterelle purée and parsnip frites paired with 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle “Indian Wells” Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington). We know what you’re thinking. The cost is $59 per person, plus tax and gratuity. 266-8111, stoneballoonwh.com
Wining at Winterthur
“Uncorked! Wine, Objects & Tradition at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library” celebrates the objects and imagery created by society’s relationship with wine from the 1600s to the 1800s. In association with the exhibit, Winterthur will host The Art of Food & Wine Pairing on Nov. 9. Enjoy an evening of wine-tasting with Pasternak Wine Imports on Nov. 9. Tickets are $45 for members, $50 for non-members. Wining and Dining Tours will be held every Friday Friday through Nov. 16. In the Rotunda on Oct. 25, enjoy a Lunchtime Lecture: The Wine Cellar at Winterthur. Examine the history of wine-drinking at Winterthur from the early 20th century, through Prohibition and into the 1960s with estate historian Maggie Lidz. Also, join the Golden Pheasants at Hagley Museum and Library on Oct. 25 for the Golden Pheasants Seagram’s Tasting. Sample old and new Seagram products while exploring the early history of this distilled spirits company. Chief Curator of Library Collections Lynn Catanese will be on hand to discuss highlights from Hagley’s collection on Joseph E. Seagram & Sons Inc. Jared Card from The Wine and Spirits Company of Greenville will provide a tasting of Seagram products, including a special mixed drink in honor of Golden Pheasants members. Enjoy light refreshments and a few cannon firings. Cost is $15 per person. For more information about all events, visit brandywinetreasures.org.
Is Buckley’s Tavern ever going to reopen? Facebook says staff training has begun. Hurry please…