Like red power ties and tasseled leather loafers, something about steakhouses has always meant business.
[caption id="attachment_172244" align="alignright" width="355"] New York Strip with 'frites' and gorgonzola-garlic butter.[/caption]
It's here we find those charred-and-juicy slabs of beef needed to lend the proper sense of upper-crust dignity to a high-stakes moment, and it's here that we can be tempted by the juicy wines and oozy, unctuous side dishes that seem so suited to lubricating the gears of deal- making.
Sadly, and despite its genuine big-business bonafides, Greater Wilmo has never boasted enough Big Beef Power Lunch destinations, at least not compared to those big-baller steakhouses (Capital Grille, Ruth's Chris) in larger cities. Even Delaware's still-undisputed champion of beef-fueled businessmaking lies wayyy up yonder, tucked amid the retail sprawl along the Pennsylvania border as if it were about to flee the state for a saner setting.
And what a frazzled setting this is: Marooned in a mayhem-filled strip-center parking lot, just steps from Concord Pike's roaring traffic, Sullivan's Steakhouse looks resembles any other chain outpost pre-packed with suburbanites "“ until you step inside. Immediately, a smooth, jazzy vibe descends, warmed by the woody, auburn-toned decor, and brightened here and there by splashes of modern art.
Even when the crowds are chattering, a dignified hush seems to prevail, perhaps to give Sullivan's' well drilled wait staff the proper decorum for temptation: Check out this beef-lovin' wine list, speckled with some real California gold. Consider the daily "Business Lunch," a three-course, $19.50 extravaganza featuring a choice of steak, chicken or salmon entrees, along with app and side dish.
[caption id="attachment_172241" align="alignright" width="350"] Seared Ahi Tuna with fava beans and sprouts.[/caption]
Of course, there are also the de rigueur sandwich-or-salad selections, but why seek salvation when sinfulness is already within reach: How about a perfectly medium-rare New York Strip "steak frites," joined with a funky, fabulous gorgonzola-garlic butter ($20). Or maybe this char-skinned "Herb Brick" roasted chicken ($21), its moistness enhanced by a perky marinade.
As is proper for a steakhouse, seafaring treats are also regarded with reverence, giving us the option of chubby crab cakes with slaw ($29.50), seared-rare ahi tuna with sweet favas and bean sprouts ($26), or even such lighter-than-air options as a "Steakhouse Salad" with garlic shrimp, avocado and bacon ($16.50).
[caption id="attachment_172242" align="alignright" width="350"] Steakhouse Salad with garlic shrimp, avocado and bacon.[/caption]
Those relatively restrained caloric options might be the best choice if you have indulged too wantonly in Sullivan's thoroughly fulfilling appetizers, ranging from shatter-crisp eggrolls stuffed with shrimp and veggies ($15), to these spicy, crispy, creamy and dreamy "Shanghai" calamari ($17) "“ all served in portions sufficient to feed three of four.
For moments of expense-account anxiety, Sullivan's has devised a range of "Private Dining" menus, a $34-per-person, mix-and-match assortment of starter-entree-and-sides that seems perfectly suited to larger gatherings in Sullivan's two roomy meeting spaces.
That, of course, assumes everyone attending the meeting won't suffer a fender-to-fender encounter with one of the Trader Joe's rabble, who seem to be constantly prowling for a free space in this Pac Man-inspired parking lot. Just be calm and remember: When things are done as well as they do at Sullivan's, Big Beef is worth such fleeting pain, and is equipped to help seal the deal, even when the price seems dear.
All photos are by Eric Ruth. If you have a recommendation for Power Lunch let us know in the comments.
5525 Concord Pike, Wilmington (Market Place Shopping Center)
"¢ Food and service: High standards (accompanied by relatively high prices) mean you'll get the kind of big-beef luxury that important business meetings demand at this upscale steakhouse filled with well-drilled and congenial servers.
"¢ Ambiance/elegance factor: Not even this claustrophobic and chaotic parking lot can diminish Sullivan's well-heeled decor, drenched with the kind of carpeted hush that serious business meetings demand. (Lunch entrees $14-$29.50)
"¢ Catering: Full-course catering menu available.
"¢ Takeout/delivery: Takeout available; no deliveries.
"¢ Private tables: Yes.
"¢ Meeting-ready? Yes.
"¢ Tech-readiness: No Wi-Fi available at our visit.
"¢ Allergy-friendly? A comprehensive allergen guide is available through Sullivan's website.
"¢ The Buzz: Grab something from the three-course "Business Lunch" special for the best deal.