Dee Lincoln Prime opened in December, with executive chef TJ Lengnick (with experience at Pappas Bros., Stephan Pyles, Jasper’s, and Shinsei) and sushi chef Mark Tungcmittrong (a veteran of Tei Tei Robata and Steel Sushi). Thus staffed, the “Queen of Steaks”’ new restaurant billed itself as a high-end steakhouse with an omakase sushi bar and extensive tequila library in the splashy complex of The Star in Frisco. And yet, my experience there on a recent evening didn’t impress me much.
In silver tufted semi-circular banquettes, you sit, dwarfed by the bulbous shapes of what look like oversized bedposts or ornate banisters in a modern dining room accented by sleek pewter grays and semi-abstract art. The cognitive disconnect of Adele belting over the loudspeakers as our server tried to explain the Japanese Wagyu beef options, $30-$40 per ounce, 4-ounce minimum, threw me. I had him repeat. The songbird continued to trill her tonsils at dramatic decibel levels. I hadn’t felt angsty coming in. Now I needed a cocktail or two.
The décor was the same mix of incongruity and made me feel as though we had been shrunk and set in an outsized set inspired by Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The chandelier in the wine cellar could be inspired by sea life. I felt a little like I was inside an oyster shell, in that pearlescent banquette. Our server was lovely. The menu, printed on dazzling silver paper, offered photo illustrations of featured sushi and crudo options without indicating what they were. Things looked great, but the visit was an overall disappointment.
A lobster roll—cooked lobster over an (un)spicy crab and avocado roll—is an impressive piece of visual presentation. It arrives with cucumber strips describing the outlines of flower petals. But the rice was soggy and the ensemble lacked anything to make it pop. We asked for a side dollop of fresh-grated wasabi, which helped. The whole thing cost a cool $24. Worse, white truffle oil not only covered up but added an unwelcome, unsettling musty funk to a scallop crudo we couldn’t bring ourselves to finish.
The porterhouse steak, wet-aged 28 days and dry-aged 28 more, came out on a large board. It was well-seasoned, had good char, and was presented beautifully, precisely sliced along both sides of the T-shaped bone and fanned attractively on either side. It had that wonderful, potent dry-aging flavor around the edges. But the filet meat in particular didn’t have the lush, velvety texture that distinguishes an exquisitely tender filet.
Whipped potatoes were silky, and so full of butter and cream that a few bites were all we needed. Sugar snap peas were rather wan and overdone—not atrociously, just enough to take off what bloom and crunch there might have been.
A sake I asked counsel about before ordering was fruity, floral, and far less dry than it was announced as being.
For dessert, we ordered the house take on the theme of “coffee and doughnuts,” always a fun chance for a twist. The espresso pot de crème was a hint grainy. When we spooned it together with the lovely, warm, sugar-dusted doughnuts, we forgot the graininess.
It’s a “looker” of a place, with good service, which is well-intentioned and sincere. But Dee Lincoln Prime, you are not my go-to steakhouse. Sing Adele if you’d like. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing other people.