The crispy artichoke beignets with the layers of sliced artichoke heart stuffed with fontina and Parmesan cheese, and topped with a crisp coating of bread crumbs are just one of many new autumn dishes at Del Frisco’s Grill, which overlooks the iconic Santa Monica Pier from the northeast corner of Colorado and Ocean Avenue.
The beignets resemble arancini di riso or Sicilian rice balls and come five per a plate. They are served with a pleasing, light green, sweet basil dipping sauce that pairs nicely with cabernet from Aquinas North Coast Wines, which offered a smooth, black cherry finish.
The lively dining room is adjacent to the large bar where patrons were watching the Dodgers and Astro game. The baseball fans were sipping craft beers, red and white sangrias, and cocktails, including the Ocean Sunset made with RumHaven Coconut Rum, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Orgeat syrup, fresh lime juice and bitters.
To continue our meal, we ordered a yellow and dark red roasted baby beet salad, on a whipped feta cheese spread and topped with chopped mint, a flavorsome orange zest and splashed with a sherry vinaigrette.
When our server brought out a steakhouse-style burger, we admired its size and presentation. The Quinn’s Filet Burger is named after the head chef for Del Frisco’s Grille, Shawn Quinn. He makes a decadent, 6-ounce, house-ground filet mignon patty, and cooks it medium rare before placing a generous dollop of in-house bacon and onion jam. This elevated burger has both Gorgonzola and Gruyere cheese, a few sprigs of arugula and whole grain mustard spread on a soft kaiser roll. The large burger is juicy, delicious, and is served with house-cut Idaho potato french fries that are crisp on the outside, and warm and creamy inside.
Another hearty dish worth noting is the prime steak sandwich that is cut from a whole beef loin, hand-shaved to order. Layers of beef are placed on an artisan French roll and then dazzled with a creamy horseradish. The au jus on the side enhances the flavors even more.
My favorite main dish was the perfectly cooked scallops on top of a goat cheese polenta. There were five on a plate with blistered red cherry tomato chermoula, offering North African flavors. The chermoula sauce is made with tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon over earthy spices and a delicious mix of fresh herbs. It’s topped with a pine nut gremolata and roasted chive sticks.
My friend Patricia really enjoyed the tender coffee-braised pork shank with coffee and apple cider glaze. Cubes of bacon pieces, collards and toasted Sea Island red pea gravy make this pork shank extra memorable.
For side dishes, the creamy truffle mac and cheese offers a whole new rich and delicious level of comfort. The sauce is made with cream, Gruyere and Parmesan cheese. Diced shallots and chopped garlic are poured over the cooked radiatori pasta, which is then covered with bread crumbs before being placed into the oven to brown. The final touch is a high-quality truffle oil drizzled on top. It’s simply magnificent.
The charred Parmesan broccolini with squeezed lemon and roasted asparagus are healthier sides to accompany one of the five signature steak options. Del Frisco’s Grille offers an 8- and 12-ounce filet mignon, a 14-ounce bone-in filet, prime New York strip and prime ribeye. On Friday and Saturday, they also serve a special bone-in prime rib.
Desserts range from a coconut cream pie with white chocolate shavings, Nutella bread pudding, a molten chocolate cake and salted caramel pudding in a jar.
Del Frisco’s Grille will be open for Thanksgiving, serving a three-course, prix fixe menu for $42 per person.
Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. $$ 1551 Ocean Ave Suite 105, Santa Monica, (310)395-7333. 55 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, (626)765-9913.
This article is featured in the Nov. 9, 2017 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News