CHOPS has really got "the chops"
Over labor day weekend, my wife was out of town visiting a friend from high school, up in the Castskills for a weekend of " girl talk", Saturday night feeling sullen and though it was after ten I decided to try the one real steakhouse in the area. I was prepared for mediocre and brought my copy of Barron's and the WSJ to keep me company. I hadn't heard a thing about this eatery on City Avenue in any of the local Main Line press.
HOWEVER, the meal was great, the equal of any I had at the Palm or Mortons. The house salad was very good. The waiter told me they were out of the large and small filet. I asked whether I should order the porterhouse, eat the filet and take the strip steak home. I decided to order the strip steak rare with a side of brioiled mushrooms. BEWARE: The portions of the ala carte side dishes are enough for a party of four. I also asked if the chef could broil the mushrooms in a little red wine to pump up the taste the way my wife does. Not a problem, my waiter replied. The mushrooms came back tasting as
as good as my wife's . And the large 16 oz NY strip steak: simply marvelous. As tender as the best filet and as flavorful and juicy.
The dress is basically business casual. I got a comfortable booth, well lit when I mentioned I needed enough light to read by. Great service, great food, moderate prices, and a comfortable setting, close by AND open late. What more could a main line foodie want. Can't wait to go back.
The first time I tried a steak at CHOPS I was underwhelmed (a few years back) but tried the lunchtime portion of "Strak-Frites" a month or so ago. I asked the bartender what cut it was (traditionally the French serve Onglet (hanger steak) and she said it was rib eye. It was, in fact, a smallish NY strip, but a nice size for a lunch portion. It was delicious. They use Prime beef and age it 21 days (just like I do at home.) I don't believe either Morton's or Palm (or most other big-names) serve dry-aged as default. All the biggies use Prime, but in many cases Dry-Aged steaks are sold at a premium.
When I buy a NY strip primal at Costco, it is about 10 bucks per lb. and after the aging process (where you lose 15-20% of the weight) the yield comes out to about $10 per steak. At lunch, anyway, you don't pay much more at CHOPS. I have become a fan.
One warning, though, at the bar if you see a large glass urn of vodka with fresh fruit soaking in it, ask the price first before ordering !