I hadn’t put Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House on my list of things I must do before I leave NY because it is a restaurant I have frequented often during the past 4 years. And there are plenty of great steakhouses in LA. There is no Yankee Stadium or Coney Island in Cali.
But last week when I received an email from Lori, who introduced me to Del Frisco’s a few years ago, saying we have to go to Del Frisco’s before I leave, I gave it some thought. And not just because I coincidentally was walking past the eatery, on Avenue of the Americas and 49th Street, at the time. I had stopped by the restaurant the previous week, on a beautiful, sunny, spring day. But turned around and left when I saw the shades were drawn to block the rays. I am big on sunlight.
When I suddenly found myself with some free time on my schedule today, I decided to pop in for a late lunch. I emailed Lori and asked if she wanted to meet me but she was in Bristol. I tried to get Tiffany from People to meet me but she had interviews, meetings and a mandatory Cinco de Mayo celebration.
So I went alone, as I usually do anyway. I don’t come here every week or every month but I am known here. Lori introduced me to Felix, the gregarious host, a few years ago. And I later met the executive chef Clarence Van De Mark and the folks behind the bar.
I love coming here as much for the atmosphere as the food. This photo taken with my BlackBerry does the place no justice. Housed in a former bank, Del Frisco’s is a gorgeous, two- story restaurant with a long L-shaped bar, a lot of wood and glass, a beautiful staircase and floor to ceiling windows stretching 38 feet and offering views of Radio City Music Hall, the bright red news crawl wrapping around the Fox News Corp bldg., Simon & Schuster, the McGraw-Hill flag blowing proudly in the wind next to Old Glory. Skyscrapers galore from the windows! Because it is a block away from the Time Life Bldg., I became a semi-regular a while back. There was a point where I went into People’s offices every day for a few months, and came down here after work. Outside of that then it was occasionally but faithfully.
Even during the Fashion Week, which takes place just down the street at Bryant Park, I would stop in here in between shows, carrying my Women’s Wear Daily and The Daily. I would sit at the bar and stuff my little face, providing the perfect excuse as to why me, being a size 8 (OK maybe 10 on a bad day), was not on the catwalk with the size 2 and 4 bean poles.
And the music is always incredible. As I am sitting here now typing this post on my BlackBerry, I am listening to the Isley Brothers’ Who’s That Lady. The Staples Singers’ Mr. Big Stuff, Stevie Wonder’s You Are the Sunshine of my life, the Marvelettes’ Mr. Postman. Music gets no better than this!
At nighttime it so packed that you can’t hear the tunes. But I usually come in after the lunch crowd has dispersed and before the happy hour madness begins and sit at the bar and have a long, leisurely lunch. Like today. Lunch stretched 90 minutes. Felix came by to say chat.
Then Clarence, the executive chef, came over. I said something about going home to Harlem and he said he was moving there from Jersey City next month. I told him what a big mistake he was making. He is going to be further south than me and on the east side. I don’t know that area but to me it is still Harlem. I told him I would send him my “Farewell to 2008” email about Harlem, comparing it to walking off the set of “The Jeffersons” and onto the set of “Good Times” when I moved there from the cultured Upper East Side.
I won’t miss Harlem but I will miss coming to Del Frisco’s. As I sit here now, I wish I could stay here and eat and drink as the place fills up. But I’m stuffed after fried oysters, fillet tips of beef and potatoes, a chunk of bread with a bowl of butter and two glasses of Malbec.
I just asked for the check and was informed that Clarence had picked up my tab. How sweet of him! Here I was just an occasional (albeit faithful) customer who was leaving town. He didn’t have to do that. But that’s the kind of guy he is. I remember the first time I met him and he suggested I should try the crab cakes. I balked but eventually gave in. So glad I did. They are THE best crab cakes in Manhattan. No lie. I should have had them today, now that I think about it. But it’s always a toss-up on whether to go with the oysters or crab cakes when I have beef, a must. Maybe I can come back for the crab cakes?