DT Prime sizzles onto the downtown dining scene
One of the most anticipated local restaurants in years has been open for three months now, and it took every bit of patience I had not to rush in right away to give DT Prime a try.
But I strongly believe in giving new restaurants a chance to work out the kinks before I start passing judgment, so wait I did. After that grace period, they’re fair game, so we snuck in twice this past week to – finally! – check the place out.
In a word? Wow.
DT Prime is not DT Perfect. But all things considered – food, ambiance, service, quality and price – this new place is absolutely living up to its red-hot hype.
Located on the corner of Quarrier and Capitol streets in downtown Charleston, DT Prime is an upper-scale steakhouse serving top-grade cuts of local beef, along with chicken, pork, seafood and pasta entrees accompanied by a variety of appetizers, salads and sides.
What makes it truly stand out from other steakhouses, however, is that you can have your seared-only steak served on an 850-degree lava stone, allowing you to slice and cook it exactly how you want it.
That all seemed a little gimmicky to me at first, so neither my wife nor I tried it on our first visit, instead opting to have our medium-rare filet cooked in the kitchen.
We’re glad we did, because it was excellent, as was the lemon pepper sea bass that came topped with a caper beurre blanc sauce and served over local mushroom risotto.
We also loved a cup of bisque studded with large pieces of crab; a technicolor fall salad full of roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, walnuts and goat cheese in a tangy vinaigrette; and a super-creamy, yet still denser-than-usual, tiramisu that was truly out of this world.
A few days later, I returned with my two youngest sons for what I knew would be a “guys night out” steak-a-palooza.
As we whetted our appetites with a deliciously smoky grilled Caesar salad and perfectly cooked New Zealand lollipop lamp chops served with feta and chimichurri, we noticed that everyone around us was slicing and cooking their own dinners on those sizzling stones. The sights, sounds and smells were so intoxicating, we quickly decided that all three of us would so be trying those stones.
A short while later, a 7-ounce center-cut filet, a 14-ounce New York Strip and a 12-ounce Delmonico each came on a separate stone accompanied by our potato of choice and little bowls of local salt, Casino butter and housemade garlic ponzu.
As instructed by our server, we sprinkled a little salt on the stone, added a dollop of the seasoned butter (which immediately melted and bubbled on contact) then cut off an individual bite of steak to heat up.
They suggest 15 seconds for medium-rare and up to 45 seconds for medium, but we were pulling ours off after just 5-10 seconds for thinner slices and maybe 20-30 seconds for thicker pieces.
In a word? Incredible!
Not a gimmick at all, these hot stones not only allow you to cook every single bite just the way you want it – temperature, texture, seasoning and all – but they also turn dinner into an interactive experience that made for a fantastic night out.
The family-sized sides we shared – earthy, tangy and slightly spicy Sweet Thai Brussels Sprouts and impossibly rich and creamy Bacon Mac & Cheese – were two of the best sides I’ve had in a long time, while the pumpkin cake with cinnamon cream icing and apple bread pudding desserts we ended with were nice sweet treats to cap off the night.
As I alluded to before, there were some missteps, but I am happy to report that most hiccups we experienced during our first visit weren’t issues at all when we returned a week later.
Our bread was underbaked, doughy and cold in the middle during our first dinner, but was served to fluffy hot perfection the second time. The asparagus was smothered in way too much salty cheese the first time, but was less heavy-handed on the second go-round. The Cajun-seared scallops with mango salsa were also too salty and slightly underdone on visit one, but were much better on our follow-up trip.
During that second visit, we did hear the table next to us ask how a particular item on the menu was prepared and their server responded, “It depends on who’s in the kitchen today.” That line was good for a laugh, but inconsistency is no joke and it plagued our potato sides on both visits.
The scalloped potatoes were first under-seasoned, then undercooked, rendering them more crunchy than creamy. The garlic mashed potatoes definitely needed more garlic and salt, as did the medley of roasted fingerling potatoes. We couldn’t taste any trace of the garlic butter that was supposed to have flavored them, although they were very well cooked.
A “steak and potato” restaurant really needs to nail both, and the dud spuds mentioned above are easily fixable. I have no doubt they will be, because DT Prime is a top-quality restaurant, whose owners, manager, chef and staff make it obvious they care about providing an impeccable dining experience.
(For those who are unfamiliar, this new restaurant is owned by the same folks behind Ichiban, Bar 101 and The Lookout Bar & Grill at Eagle View.)
That quality experience does come at a higher price, which is on par with what you’d pay for similar fare at The Chop House. In my opinion, it is absolutely worth it.
DT Prime has become an instant favorite for my family and, based on a packed house most nights, it seems many have climbed aboard the DT train with me.
IF YOU GO: DT Prime at 201 Capitol St. in downtown Charleston is open from 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 304-357-5700 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.