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Has anyone eaten here, other than the usual assortment of spies?
Signage is up for Del Frisco's Grill, taking over the old Les Halles space on Pennsylvania Avenue. Looks to be a more casual off shoot of Dallas-based Del Frisco's steakhouse. Steaks, cocktails, burgers, sandwiches, seafood, big salads, flatbreads, and yes truffled mac and cheese....you know the drill. But I suppose, realistically, only something corporate and chainy can afford that space.
Website & Menu: http://freddysusa.com/Menu/FullMenu/default.aspx Location: 10030 Fairfax Blvd, Fairfax, VA (next to the Fairfax Outback Steakhouse) Serious Eats review of another location: http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/04/chain-reaction-freddys-frozen-custard-and-steakburgers-review.html Impressions: Much less claustrophobic than the Fredericksburg Steak & Shake (and sure as shit easier to get to), and far more "roomy" than the Smashburger down the street. There's likely a good reason for this, however, in the fact that directly behind the restaurant is a communal practice field and playground, and directly adjacent is the Fairfax Outback. That's excellent news for their bottom line, but I could see both factors weighing heavily on interior congestion, service time, and *parking*. Other than that, this place is a near-carbon-copy of Steak & Shake. The chief difference between the two is that Freddy's does frozen custard along with their grillworks. Other differences come in the form of Freddy's not having the wait staff of S&S, instead opting for a number-call system. This isn't a negative insomuch as the wait staff, at least at the Fredericksburg S&S, contributes to more traffic on the floor. Two big notable *minuses* have to be the location of the condiment/drink station *right next* to where you pick up your order as well as *only two registers* for the interior. It also feels decidedly "cheaper" and much more kitschy than Smashburger, so if you prefer a more "adult" atmosphere, I'd advise you go a bit further down/up the road. Layout: Roomy, considering it used to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken. I visited right around 5:45pm on 3/23, and people had plenty of room to move around, but a game taking place on the aforementioned practice field and the looming dinner rush of the Outback might've made eating there an hour or two later untenable, though I'd imagine only about 1/4 of those originally going to Outback would be tempted to "downgrade" their dining experience to fast-casual when presented with a lengthy wait time. There are also, thankfully, no distractants to keep people in their seats longer than they need to be there. No TVs showing sports or cartoons discourages loitering, and I didn't see any mention of "Free Wi-Fi." Wait Time: No more than ten minutes, but it wasn't very busy, either. Order and Taste: One double Bacon and Cheese (#7) and one single "California Style" just to taste. The patties are smashed almost paper-thin (again, a la Steak & Shake) and if you get a single, you're liable to taste more of the toppings and condiments than the protein. This is perfectly fine if you're looking to save on fat and calories, but not especially recommended if you're trying to sate your hunger. The standard burger uses only mustard as a condiment, and if you're a fan of that, you'll love these burgers. The "California Style" is their take on In & Out, and having never been to one, I can't tell if their "spread" hits it dead on. It's pretty much just that predictable "Thousand Island" taste. As for the beef itself, if you like crust, this place does it better than Smashburger. The big winner had to be the toppings. I barely tasted the bacon, but the winner on both burgers had to be the white onion and pickle. Unlike Smashburger, whose onions tend to catch in your teeth and pull out with each bite, this onion was crispy and yielded quite nicely with each bite, markedly contributing to each one taken. The fries aren't really anything special. They're shoestring-style and palatable, but fundamentally no different than a half-dozen other places around here who do it the same way, and only earn a slight kick in the form of their "Fry Sauce" which is simply that, a yellowish-beige light seemingly mayo/mustard-based sauce that has visual flecks of what appears to be cayenne pepper or curry powder or the like inside of it. Even after two of their burgers and a handful of their fries, I still wasn't "full," which should also speak to the viability of this place as anything more than just a "light lunch/dinner." They even seem to know this themselves, as each booth/table's napkin dispenser advertises their frozen custard as the "perfect end to every meal," and they sure got me to fish for that in the form of their PBC&B (Peanut Butter Cup & Banana) concrete. The custard itself is on par with and perhaps a bit superior to Milwaukee's (especially considering there isn't a frozen custard place in Fairfax yet), and the blending of banana and candy at least gives you the *impression* that you're eating something vaguely nutritious, despite my counting only about 4-5 slices of banana in my "regular" sized cup. Verdict: Worth a try if you're within 20-30 minutes of it, just be sure to not go during a dinner rush, and if you see anything being played/practiced on the field behind, eat quickly lest you be drowned in an avalanche of sweaty, amped up little youth soccer munchkins. It's also not *cheap*, with each combo costing in the range of 7-8 bucks plus whatever else you decide to tack on. Also, evidently it was good enough for "Blago" to make it his last meal as a free man for the next 14 years: http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/03/blagojevich-eats-last-meal-before-prison-at-freddys-frozen-custard-and-steakburgers.html
I didn't know that it was possible to find something that excited me less than the prospect of a Sex in the City movie, well that is until I read about the movie's cross promotion with Houlihan's. Hopefully on Wednesday I can convince my wife to let me travel to Springfield so that I "can get my girl on". Amelie Gillette at the A.V. Club took one for the team and went off to try these concoctions at the Penn Station Houlihan's because nothing says hip like drinking bright red drinks in the shadow of Roy Rogers.