By Jackie Goodwin
Last month I had a hankering for a really great steak so I decided to try Harrisburg’s latest example of a new generation of steakhouses—1700° Steakhouse to be exact.
Located inside the Hilton Harrisburg, 1700° shares a common space which is divided by partitions with Ad Lib Craft Kitchen & Bar. Both restaurants are run by Anthony “Tony” Bianco, executive sous chef, along with Executive Chef John Reis.
1700° Steakhouse’s ambiance is big-city-chic. If you didn’t know you were in Harrisburg, you would think you were in a stand-alone restaurant in some exotic location like New York, Chicago or San Francisco. And its adjoining partner, Ad Lib Craft Kitchen & Bar’s atmosphere also tricks your imagination into thinking you’re in another town and not in a hotel.
“This isn’t your usual white plate steak joint,” says Chef Bianco who tells me that the opening of 1700° coincided with the Hilton’s remodeling project that did away with the two former restaurants—Raspberries and The Golden Sheaf.
While the Golden Sheaf was my all-time favorite restaurant in Harrisburg, I was really impressed with 1700°. The restaurant showcases an eight foot high, temperature controlled wine wall separating the two dining spaces. There are more than 900 bottles in the restaurant’s award-winning wine collection. And if you don’t know which wine to request, just ask sommelier Joseph Carroll (he also was The Golden Chef sommelier) for assistance. You can’t go wrong with any of his suggestions.
The restaurant’s decor features white walls that depicts wine scenes, white linen tablecloths with romantic candles, comfortable leather chairs, couches with oversized puffy pillows and ambient lighting that spotlights black contemporary pedant chandeliers.
Chef Bianco offers a variety of different entrees of quality cuts of Midwestern prime, dry aged beef and certified Angus beef and the menu also includes a 21-day, dry-aged New York strip whose aging process accentuates the delicate flavor of the meat.
Chef Bianco tells me that 1700°’s steaks are grilled and then blasted under an infrared broiler running at 1,700 degrees, roughly hot enough to melt aluminum, thus, the restaurant’s name.
1700° also offers a steak sampler which includes four ounces each of the certified Angus tenderloin, the New York strip, and the Kobe flat iron. Add Chef Bianco’s specials to the list and you have a great menu that offers old time favorites with the opportunity to experience a contemporary spin if you are so inclined.
Using an iPad that doubled as the menu, for my first entrée I selected Grilled Diver Scallops ($16) with salsify, sunflower, arugula and truffle. Sommelier Joseph suggested I pair my selection with a glass of Louis Jadot Meursault. Perfect!
Sweet Potato Ravioli ($13) with braised lamb ragout, smoked mushrooms, pomegranate pips was my second small plate selection. It had an unique taste which was very, very delicious.
Grilled Dorado ($38) with celeriac gnocchi, Maine lobster, carrot consommé, and chervil paired with 2009 Chassagne Monrachet Oliver Leflaive was next. I didn’t go wrong ordering it.
Lamb Loin ($44) Chanterelle, Grapefruit, Persimmon, Nasturtium, and a Béarnaise sauce consisting of Roasted crimini and wild mushrooms and mildly sweet whole cipollini onions was excellent. Sommelier Joseph suggested a Duckhorn Merlot with this entrée.
Shropshire Bleu cheese which forms a pungent crust over the Certified Angus 8 oz Filet Mignon ($38) looked interesting. It comes with a demi-glace, pencils of asparagus and creamy, roasted fingerling potatoes. But I went with my first choice: the 21-day dry aged 14 ounce New York Strip ($46) instead. The entrée included blue cheese and smoked corn puree. I noticed that the meat arrived with a textured, almost brittle outer bark, like the crust on a really great loaf of sourdough. Cooked to a medium rare it cut like butter. Sommelier Joesph’s suggestion of the 2009 Masi Costasera Amarone only added to the experience. I was in heaven!
If beef is not your first choice, 1700 also offers an array of pork, lamb, duck, lobster, and fish entrees.
While I had no room for a salad, the 1700 Wedge Salad ($9) consisting of Baby Iceberg lettuce, neuskies smoked bacon, Point Reyes and a six minute egg is a customer favorite according to Chef Bianco.
Other salads include Caesar, the House ($7) and the Chopped Kale Salad ($9) mixed with maple pecans, pickled beets, pear, cheddar, and tarragon yogurt dressing.
Notable sides on the menu include Truffle Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese ($7), Braised Collard Greens, Fig, Ham Hock ($7), and Brussels Sprouts, Horseradish, Pancetta ($7).
Even though I was pleasantly full, being a crème brulee affecido I just had to give this dessert a taste. I was so glad I did. The vanilla crème brulee was light and creamy. It was delicious.
Other desserts I could have chosen included Macaroons, Dark Chocolate Truffles, a Tiramisu Apothecary and a Mini Fruit Cobbler.
And for those who rely on old time favorites such as cheesecake, gelato, biscotti and fresh seasonal fruit you will not be disappointed. These tried and tree confections are also present on the menu as are new creations including Pumpkin Mousse Napoleon, a pinenut tart, and Chocolate Decadence.
The Hilton Hotel really outdid itself with 1700° Steakhouse and Ad Lib. Whether there for business or pleasure you’re going to enjoy yourself. The service is prompt and efficient and the food superb. You’ll find exciting and innovative drink menus, delicious small plates which are far from small and main entrées to die for. You just can’t have a bad meal.
Now might be a good time to also acknowledge that with the unveiling of 1700° the Hilton has redefined the word “steakhouse.” 1700° Steakhouse proves that the word means so much more than slabs of beef loin cooked in a high-temperature broiler. The 1700° Steakhouse experience signifies top-quality meat and seafood prepared with recipes that make sense, a wine list that shows depth and commitment and a service corps that takes its mission seriously. For sure, 1700° embodies a new generation of steakhouses.
1700° Steakhouse and Ad Lib Craft Kitchen & Bar are located inside the Hilton Harrisburg, 1 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg. For more information and reservations visit www.1700restaurant.com (717-237-6400) and www.adlibrestaurants.com (717-237-6419).