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1700 Degrees Steakhouse heats up Harrisburg's fine dining scene

Published: Jan 12, 2015

January 12, 2015 – story & photography by Julie Vitto - FLY Magazine - LINK

What do 1,000 bottles of wine, seven barrels of whiskey and a 1,700-degree broiler add up to? Central PA’s answer to the great American steakhouse.

Located at One North Second Street in downtown Harrisburg, there’s no question that Restaurant Row starts at Hilton Harrisburg’s 1700˚ Steakhouse. Since the official ribbon cutting in December 2014, the restaurant has been generating buzz as the region’s only traditional steakhouse of its caliber. 

The menu features Midwestern prime, Kobe, dry-aged and certified Angus beef seared to perfection in a 1,700-degree broiler. Also featured is a selection of sustainable seafood, along with chicken, pork and lamb dishes. For those with sensitivities to gluten, there are plenty of naturally gluten-free options that don’t skimp on flavor or calories.

1700˚ prides itself on offering one of the world’s top wine lists, signature craft and barrel-aged cocktails and locally produced beer. Beverage manager Jeff Lyons curated the impressive collection of spirits for the restaurant. After almost four decades of working in the restaurant industry, Lyons knows his stuff.

“I’ve been doing this for 38 years,” he says after locating a bottle of Ardbeg Uigeadail near the top shelf of the warmly lit bar.

He goes on to describe the process by which the single-malt Islay Scotch whisky is made. Crowned “World Whisky of the Year” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2009, Uigeadail is named for the Scottish loch that supplies the peat-laden water used to make it. One whiff, and you will understand the connection between peat and fuel.

“We’ve got nine ryes, 36 bourbons and 40 malt Scotches,” says Lyons – some of which you won’t find in any other bar in Pennsylvania.

Already familiar with big name whiskeys, I ask for a recommendation of something different. The bartender suggests Dad’s Hat, a Pennsylvania rye. Distilled in Bristol (which claims on the bottle to be the birthplace of rye whiskey), the quarter-cask-aged rye uses locally sourced grain to deliver a pure, balanced flavor.

“We have seven barrels going right now,” Lyons says of his on-site barrel-aged cocktails, which he continually monitors for quality during the aging process. “We have seven more that are empty, but we plan to create some really interesting drinks with those.” 

One of the most delightfully unique cocktails offered is the Porthole. Named for the circular infusion vessel in which it is served (a Kickstarter success story), the 13- ounce Porthole contains a charming display of herbs, star anise, orange peel, cinnamon sticks and apple and orange slices floating in a blend of spiced rum and Goldschläger. Every few minutes, another pour from the vessel results in a slightly different balance of infused flavors. Reminiscent of a mulled cider, it’s served at room temperature.

When the hotel’s Golden Sheaf restaurant was retired after 25 years in November, a fresh new dining experience was unveiled on the other side of the lobby. 1700˚ is committed to continuing its predecessor’s tradition of providing service at levels worthy of its Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) and AAA Four Diamond awards.

White, warehouse-style brick pillars establish the well-lit entrance to 1700˚. The restaurant is welcoming and humming with energy. An open kitchen window is incorporated into the layout for guests to witness the clean, stainless steel equipment and diligently trained staff preparing what promises to be a special meal.

Beyond the massive two-sided fireplace in the lounge is the two-sided bar and beverage kitchen. Perpendicular to that is an eight-foot-high glass wine wall housing 1,000 bottles. This divides the restaurant’s two dining rooms.

While the functionality of the space is impressive, the stylish décor keeps you interested in the details. Wooden pallets cover the ceiling in the bar area, and glass bulbs appear to be dripping from the industrial-style chandeliers hung throughout the restaurant. Touches of leather are found on the chairs, and large-scale photographic murals cover walls behind banquettes and booths.

Once seated and water glasses filled, digital menu tablets are presented with guidance from the friendly wait staff on how to use them. The touch screen allows you to peruse the menu by viewing pictures and detailed descriptions of each dish or beverage. Their customized Pairing Pro app ranks a selection of available wines that pair nicely with the entrée you’ve selected.

It makes the whole fine dining experience a lot less intimidating – and a lot more interactive.

After the drink order is taken, a basket of crusty olive bread promptly arrives with a plate of two cylindrically shaped brown and fresh cream butters sprinkled, respectively, with red and black Hawaiian sea salt.

While the 36-ounce prime tomahawk chop steak for $75 looks amazing, I don’t have a dog to give the bone to. So our waitress recommends the 8-ounce certified Angus tenderloin for $36. Each steak entrée is served according to your choice of preparation. Of the six preparations available to choose from, I select Au Poivre, which consists of a creamy brandy and green peppercorn sauce over polenta made with grated Piave cheese and roasted Brussels sprouts.

In what feels like only 10 minutes, the steak is brought to our table in the pan just out of the searing 1,700-degree broiler for approval before plating. Then, a box containing four different types of steak knives is presented.

Rufus Wainwright can be heard singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as I cut into the perfectly cooked piece of beef.

With the turf, there comes the surf. A favorite of the Golden Sheaf’s regulars, the signature Barnegat scallops of New Jersey survived retirement and are featured on the new 1700˚ menu. The seared scallop and crab dish ($35) is prepared on a bed of vanilla-scented corn puree, a seasonal squash and rock shrimp succotash and topped with a dehydrated pancetta crisp.

All the flavors and textures of each meal come together beautifully.

For dessert, an ever-changing list is available, including classics like crème brûlée and cheesecake. The Tiramisu Apothecary is served in an adorable little apothecary jar with whipped cream and berries on the side. The gelato du jour is served with mint, berries and a biscotti cookie.

Whether it’s a special occasion, a business dinner or you just want to treat yourself to something new, 1700˚ Steakhouse will invite you in to feel like a connoisseur of good taste.

Author: Julie Vitto

Fly Magazine