The Frog is in Philly. We stopped by SugarHouse Casino, the new home to Chicago’s Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House to enjoy a true fine dining experience. As a member of the Chicago-based Gibsons Restaurant Group (GRG), which has operated Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse in its hometown for more than two decades. Gibsons is the only restaurant group in the country to have its own USDA Prime Angus beef certification, how can you beat that?
“Our customers are like family, and what better place to have an extended family than in the City of Brotherly Love,” said Steve Lombardo, Gibsons principal. “We’re thrilled to bring Gibsons’ core values of hospitality, quality and value to Philadelphia.”
Originally named for its owner, Hugo Ralli, and incorporating his grandfather’s nickname, “Frog,” Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House is a first-class icon in steakhouse dining with unparalleled food and service. Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House at SugarHouse is the 13th GRG-operated restaurant, from a company with a 26-year history of success.
Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House debuted on May 5, 2016 as part of the $164 million expansion of SugarHouse Casino. Gibsons Restaurant Group is now the exclusive caterer for SugarHouse’s new, second-floor multipurpose event space. The 30,000-square-foot addition, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views of the riverfront and the Ben Franklin Bridge, features GRG’s entire menu. The elegant space is tailor-made for corporate events, wedding receptions and black-tie galas—with free parking for all attendees.
Hugo’s is located in the northwest corner on the first floor with seating in the bar and dining rooms accommodates more than 300 guests. The restaurant marries a classic steakhouse with contemporary design and seamlessly blends upscale and casual.
“Attracting an exclusive, world-class restaurateur like Gibsons to SugarHouse is a great win for our casino and for Philadelphia,” said Wendy Hamilton, SugarHouse general manager. “The Gibsons brand is famous for its exceptional food and extraordinary service, and we are delighted that Hugo’s has leapt into Philly’s casino.”
Whether dining in the bar and enjoying live music played on the piano, or in the main dining room, you’ll love beginning your evening with a Rush Street Manhattan made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, cherry herring, orange bitters, and cherry. The Lilly Pad is also popular made with Lillet, grapefruit juice, sugar, and prosecco. Go for local vibes with the Edelphia made with local Stateside Vodka, prosecco, grapefruit, St. Germain, and Simple Syrup or something sweet like the Pear Blossom with Grey Goose L’Poire Vodka, St. Germain, and pear nectar.
We were in awe of the beautiful steaks and “petite” lobster tail that were brought table-side to display before we placed our order. Bring your appetite because steaks here range from a 12 oz. Filet Mignon to a massive 48 oz. Porterhouse, all with Gibson’s own USDA Prime Angus beef certification. This beef is sourced from a carefully selected list of sustainable farms in the Upper Midwest. Cattle raised in this region are far superior in taste, tenderness and consistency. Gibsons beef comes from cattle that are raised, fed and processed to Gibsons’ strict specifications, setting Gibsons offerings apart from all other commodity prime beef programs.
“We’re excited to bring an unmatched level of beef quality to a city that is steeped in steak history, from cheesesteaks to porterhouse,” said Hugo’s Philadelphia General Manager Jeff Cybulski. “We know the city will be sweet on our new SugarHouse Philly Cut 12-ounce steak, as well as the quality, service and atmosphere that are central to the Hugo’s experience.”
Starting off you’ve got plenty of options. The namesake Sautéed Frog Legs are prepared in a simple sauce of garlic, lemon butter, and scallions. This dish is so popular it was sold out when we stopped by! We’ll have to be back for Hugo’s Frog Legs. We loved the Sweet Chili Fried Calamari, cooked perfectly crispy and the Scallops Dejhonge in a white wine butter sauce you’ll want to soak up with bread.
Health conscious diners also have the option of some great salads including Hugo’s Chopped Garbage Salad piled high with shrimp, peppered salami, provolone, smoked mozzarella, bathed in house vinaigrette or the Spicy Lobster Cobb Salad with artichoke, tomato, egg, and asparagus with a combination of Ranch dressing and house vinaigrette.
Our absolute favorite starter of the evening, however, was the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with hot pink mayonnaise. This cake was massive, made with 7 oz. of jumbo lump crab meat and no filler, griddled on the stove-top for a crunchy crust to contrast the soft filling.
Hugo’s also serves lunch and has got some great deals in their “Local Favorites” section. The Cajun Chicken & Crab is popular made with andouille sausage, basmati rice, lemon butter and chives. No matter the season the New England Lobster Roll is always a classic served with hot pink mayonaise and chips. The Filet Sliders are also a great way to have a taste of steak if you don’t think you can down a 12 oz. filet.
We’re the types that bring our appetite and dinner at Hugo’s was no exception. All these steaks are made with USDA Gibsons Prime Angus beef, which is aged for 50 days and cooked in an 1,800-degree infrared broiler. This gives the steak a thin, charred crust to help seal in the natural juices.
We indulged in the 22 oz. W.R.’s Chicago Cut (Bone-in Ribeye) and Surf N’ Turf complete with a petite cold rock water lobster tail and filet mignon. We couldn’t get over the size of our lobster tail, let alone the steaks. Next time we’ll be back for the Philly Cut. This is a 12-ounce rib eye cap, topped with smoked provolone, crispy shallots and fried herbs. The Philly Cut is served ONLY at Hugo’s SugarHouse. You’ve got to come here.
Seafood lover’s will rejoice in lots of fresh menu items served here. The Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass is prepared with a miso glaze, pickled asian slaw and soy vinaigrette. Alaskan King Crab Legs can be ordered in a 1-2 lbs.The Dover Sole with chive butter, fresh thyme, and roasted garlic is also a big seller.
Heed my warning, you will regret it if you don’t order dessert here. Each is massive and incredibly delicious. Unless you’ve got a party of 4 or more you probably won’t even put a dent in it- luckily you can take yourself home a little souvenir. We had to order the Meaning of Life Cake, if not for its name alone this cake stands approximately 16 inches tall and is arguably the biggest dessert you will even encounter. Layers of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, banana, and fresh whipped cream adorn this beaut. If you’re feeling a little intimidated, don’t fear there is also some great Carrot Cake and Chocolate Mousse Pie served here.
Our dinner was absolutely the best display of fine dining. Hugo’s is ideal for a cocktail and lunch or a celebratory night out. From the Local Favorites menu to steak and fresh seafood there is something for everyone. Treat yourself and stop by to enjoy a taste of this legendary Chicago restaurant chain, now open right on the Delaware River in Philadelphia.
Additional images from Hugo’s Frog Bar and Chop House.