Jay Fox's Dining Guide
FOX: THIS TOWN IS A STEAK TOWN
“Do you know on this one block you can buy croissants in five different places? There’s one store called Bonjour Croissant. It makes me want to go to Paris and open a store called Hello Toast.“ — Fran Lebowitz
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House
WHEN I FIRST ARRIVED IN DENVER on Columbus Day, 1971, there was only one upscale steak house. That was Frankie Emmerling’s Sirloin House at 16000 E. Smith Road. It opened circa 1958 and was so far out in the boonies you had to wear a bright orange jacket soes you wouldn’t get shot by a hunter. It had a giant tree in the center of the main dining room and served fabulous steaks with all the accompaniments. I remember the bread came in zip-lock baggies supposedly to retain their freshness. The service was efficient and friendly.
In 1972, then chef, Emil (Joe) Kuchar and his wife Charlene, who had been a waitress, bought the place. Frankie wouldn’t let them keep the Emmerling name, so they renamed it Emil-Lene’s. Since the names are coincidentally similar, some old-timers still call it Emmerling’s. Most just pronounce it Emmalene’s. They still serve fine steaks and are still in the boonies.
Over the years many East coast and Midwest names came to Denver to open steakeries. Today at the top of the game, in addition to Emil-lene’s, we have Flemings, Shanahans, Mortons, Brooks, Elways, The Palm, Del Frisco’s, and muh personal fav, The Capital Grille. There are others that purport to have great steaks, but these are the crème de la crème, the very best. Can you imagine? A town the size of Denver, with all them prime steak houses? Outside of Chicago and New York, I can’t think of a major city that peddles as much prime beef as Denver. The only one I haven’t eaten at is Shanahan’s and that’s cuz the first four months they were in business all I heard was not good, and recently I haven’t heard anything. I guess G and I will have to check ‘em out.
Of the above list, only the latter four serve lunch. And that’s when I like to go. I hadn’t been to Del Frisco’s in a while but I do luv their burgers and fries and the unbelievable lemon cake. So I invited a friend. Then I remembered that the nickname for this restaurant is “The Salt Flicker.” I don’t know why certain chefs like to take a glob of kosher salt or sea salt and “flick it” over the meat, but it’s always been that way, particularly here. The salt is never distributed evenly. My burger was salty in parts and needing salt in parts. I’ve had the same issue with the maaavelous porterhouse steak. But I luv both. This is the only restaurant that I’ll have the porterhouse, even with the uneven saltiness. If I remember, I have them serve it unsalted and I do my own thing. Most cooks can’t cook a porterhouse; they get the filet end either undercooked or overcooked, or they can’t get the strip side cooked properly. Here it’s always done perfectly. And the sides are wondrous and the service is very good. So this is muh second fav place for lunch. Did I mention the lemon layer cake? Oh my. It’s the moistest, yummiest of all. Then there’s the maavelous chocolate mousse.
I gotta go back to the burger, accompanied with great fries. And yes, the fries were unevenly salted as well but oh so good. While they serve the burger on a good bun, I prefer to take the house-made white bread loaf, quarter it, and put muh burger on that. Oh my, is that something else? A good burger needs a good bun, but the bun can’t overshadow the burger. Y’all remember that I don’t have anything on muh burger. Just meat and bun. For those of you that add onion and bacon and other stuff, it doesn’t matter cuz you can’t taste the burger anyway.
I also like their shrimp cocktail, but I forgot to tell them to leave off the sauce that they layer on top of the shrimp, so if you don’t want cocktail sauce, too bad.
Why do many top steak houses serve coke in warm coke bottles rather than fountain drinks? Methinks so they can charge you a ridiculous price for each and every bottle. I hate that.
I’ll go back to Del Frisco’s soon, and make sure they don’t salt anything, Then I’ll be as happy as a pig in a poke. As happy as a lark. As happy as a dog with two tails. As happy as a clam at high tide. Really happy.
BUBBLE AND SQUEAK
Dedria Catalano sold Nonna’s Italian Bistro a while back. She’s building a new restaurant with an adjoining Italian market and deli in Way Southeast Denver.
We’ll have more info as she gets close to opening sometime late fall. Meanwhile, stop by Nonna’s and say howdy to the new owners… Front Range Inn on Morrison Rd. in Lakewood has perty darn good burgers and fries, and you can’t beat their prices. Stop by Wednesday nite for karaoke. Won’t find me there. G and I don’t sing. Well, we do, but you do NOT want to hear it.
Sounds like wild animals in the throes of death. Or maybe the Lone Ranger as he rode off into the sunset. Hi ho Silver, away!
Jay Fox is happiest when his tummy is full of beef. If you want to contact him about a favorite dining spot, or if you have a “beef” with him, here’s his address: firstname.lastname@example.org.