In Vallé Cucina’s kitchen, chefs form fresh jumbo lump crabmeat into thick patties, pan-sear them to a golden-brown hue, and drizzle their crispy crusts with beurre blanc. The eatery’s crab cakes have been hailed by Delaware Today as the city’s best for several years running. Vallé Cucina’s classic Italian entrees are held to the same high standard: chefs hand-roll gnocchi and drizzle them with slow-simmered tomato sauce, and accent dry-aged steaks with elegant flourishes such as peppercorn brandy cream sauce and blue cheese. Servers recommend selections from Vallé Cucina’s vast wine list to enhance steaks or Trevi Fountain reproductions.
Matt Crist, the new executive chef of Union City Grille, crafts lunches and signature dinners of handmade pastas, rich short-rib chili, and steaks seasoned with a house rub. An updated list of hand-selected wines and over 70 craft beers augment dishes that include hand-turned ricotta gnocchi and gourmet burgers. Guests can enjoy fare in the comfortable dining area, or in the eatery's cozy banquet room, accented with a modern fireplace. Sunday "choose your cut" fillet specials allow guests to feast on steaks discounted by the ounce, or pretend they are directing a film starring steaks.
Everything about Reserve exudes swank. Dark wood-paneled rooms and crimson curtains, more than 100 aged bourbons, and a cigar lounge—not to mention contributions from the menu such as organic steak and wild king salmon—work to redefine locals’ impressions of fine dining. Those morsels share tabletop space with entrees including roast duck breast and striped bass, the likes of which chefs lavish with seasonings such as pancetta butter, green peppercorn cream, and truffle chicken broth. The kitchen’s culinary artists also craft morsels of oyster and lobster at a raw bar whose offerings rival the bounty of Poseidon’s larder.
Reserve’s mixologists take over at the bar, where the restaurant’s cache of bourbons pour alongside a dozen draft beers, specialty cocktails, and an array of wines from the grapevines and bottle-growing bushes of California. While perched upon black leather stools amid corinthian pillars, guests also can listen to strands of live jazz as they take in everything.
At Tokyo Hibachi & Sushi, every meal is a production. Surrounded by seated guests, the hibachi chefs put on a performance behind the tabletop grills and wow diners with dexterous knife skills and the controlled bursts of flame that bloom from the grills' surfaces. This isn't purely entertainment, though. It's a way for the chefs to engage with their patrons as they cook everything from chicken and vegetables to filet mignon and lobster within full view of the crowd.
In contrast, the sushi chefs opt for a bit less showmanship as they meticulously assemble rolls behind the sushi bar. They create an assortment of familiar sushi-house staples, but they also treat taste buds with specialty maki, including ingredients such as pepper-crusted tuna, fried asparagus, or homemade chili sauce.
Befitting their main-stage status, the hibachi stations dominate almost an entire room of the dining area. Japanese-style lanterns, artwork, and mementos mirror the menu's dedication to Pacific culture, and the bar's selection of sakes and imported water complements the restaurant's commitment to Japanese flavors.
Drawing on his culinary background working in East Coast bistros and stately hotel kitchens, Mile High Steak & Seafood’s Executive Chef David Robinson crafts a rotating menu of upscale steakhouse cuisine. Robinson, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, refuses to cut corners with his ingredients, going so far as to fly in fresh seafood and grass skirts overnight from the Honolulu Fish Company. He only chooses aged certified Angus beef for his steak-centric entrees, and he revs up traditional sandwiches and appetizers on the bar menu with high-end items such as shaved prime rib, artisan cheeses, and lobster. These gourmet bites pair palatably one of the bar’s signature cocktails or glasses of wine.
Even in his down time, Robinson keeps his culinary skills sharp, coordinating charity events for the Chester County SPCA and the Brandywine Hospital Strawberry Festival. But even with his busy schedule and impressive resumé, he’s still thankful for landing his “dream job” at Mile High Steak & Seafood.