Table Talk: Texas-sized Del Frisco's to open tomorrow

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Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse , at 15th and Chestnut Streets, will have room for 556 on three levels.

At a capacity of 556 over three levels, Del Frisco's Double Eagle, opening Friday at 15th and Chestnut Streets, will be Philly's biggest steak house.

The centerpiece of the main floor is a 34-foot wine tower that can hold 2,484 bottles - and that's only about a third of the restaurant's potential wine storage. There are bars on the main floor and the mezzanine.

Mezzanine? Old-timers may not remember one in the historic Packard Building, now known as the Grande, which was the train station in the M. Night Shyamalan flick Unbreakable. Del Frisco's (1426-28 Chestnut St., 215-246-0533) added one to boost capacity and to break up the 40-foot ceilings. The building's architectural details, including the coincidental double eagles at the front door, were preserved.

The basement is for private dining, including two rooms in the main vault of the former Pennsylvania Co.

Quick history: Del Frisco's was founded in 1982 in New Orleans and moved to Dallas in 1985. In 1995, Lone Star bought it as the upper tier to its Lone Star-Sullivan's duopoly and opened outposts in Houston, Fort Worth and Dallas, plus New York, Denver, Charlotte, N.C., and Las Vegas. Last year, longtime principals Dee Lincoln and Mark Mednansky took Del Frisco's private.

Shang Skipper, who worked at the Sullivan's in Palm Desert, Calif., and the New York Del Frisco's, is general manager. And yes, Shang is his real name.

Dinner, served every day, starts Friday. Entrees on chef John Stritzinger's steak-house menu range from $28.95 for salmon to $48.95 for a 24-ounce porterhouse, though lobster and seafood specials can be priced higher.

Weekday lunch, which will start Dec. 9, ranges from the $12.95 burger to a $41.95 16-ounce strip.

Briefly noted

The well-traveled Waldemar "Val" Stryjewski (Pumpkin, Meze, Brasserie Perrier, Lacroix, Django and ¡Pasion!) is now chef with Michael McNally at London Grill in Fairmount. Dennis Heslin, its chef of 14 years, has moved to Massachusetts to open a restaurant with family.

Curds 'n' Whey, which has been in the back of Jenkintown's Noble Square shopping center since Richard Nixon was in the White House (817 Old York Rd., 215-886-2203), has started weeknight dinners. In addition to the lunch menus, it's offering such stick-to-your ribs fare as linguine and meatball ($11), lasagne ($14), and king crab legs ($24).

Bella Cena ("beautiful dinner") replaces Trattoria Primadonna at 1506 Spruce St., but it's not a huge change. New owner Michael Coll, segueing from the auto business, has taken over from his father, Giancarlo Frusone, who's still around.

Red Hot & Blue in Cherry Hill and the Elephant & Castle at 18th and Market Streets have reopened after major renovations. RH&B now has outdoor seating.

Chef Jose Garces (Amada, Tinto, Distrito) has selected sea scallops with black truffle, lemon vinaigrette, and Meyer lemon for the entree on his Dec. 4 James Beard House dinner in New York. It'll be his second trip to the Beard since he left the Stephen Starr orbit.

Rachael Ray will be in to sign her new Big Orange Cookbook, 4 p.m. Dec. 5, at the Sam's Club in Deptford and at noon Dec. 6 at Williams-Sonoma in King of Prussia.


Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or mklein@phillynews.com. See his blog "The Insider" at http://go.philly.com/insider.