Sherman's Food Adventures: Chop


A sad day has beset us. Rich Guy is heading back overseas. That means my random eating adventures with him have to be put on hold until the new year. It's like a part of me has died like the golden amber leaves that are slowly departing the rain-soaked limbs of a Maple tree. You might as well rake 'em up and shove them into a clear plastic bag to be picked up from the curb. That's how I feel. Okay, enough wallowing in my own despair. It's pathetic I know. So as a last hurrah, I offered to drive him to the airport. Of course we'd have one more meal prior to that! Vandelay was able to escape daddy duties for one night and join us. Seeing how we do Izakaya every time, it was time for a change. However, it is a little difficult to escape Asian cuisine in Richmond. So the choice of restaurants ended up with Chop, located in the Sandman Inn. Operated by Moxie's, Chop tries very hard to be a high-end steakhouse. Inevitably, there will be comparisons with The Keg. However, by walking through the doors, you get the sense that Chop comes from the Cactus Club, Earl's and Joey's school of restaurants. From the attractive staff to the blinged out decor, it has trendy written all over it.

We were able to score a table despite the place being hopping for a Friday night. Unlike my usual mantra of looking for value, sometimes I do get impressed by style. After all, as I keep mentioning, there are times when good ambiance, service and decor trumps cheap eats. In terms of style, Chop does it well, including the washroom complete with leather chaise and large flat screen TV. Not sure if I'd necessarily want to hang out in the washroom in order to stimulate my senses though. After a visit to the washroom, we got down to ordering. For the purposes of trying as many things as possible, we got the Chop Platter. It consisted of Tuna Pillars, Steak Bites, Fire-Roasted Chicken Wings, Saratoga Chips and Lobster & Prawn Fritters. For $35.00, dare I say it was actually a decent value? There was a lot of food on the plate. We'll start with the positives first. The Steak Bites were our favourite by far. Essentially steak trimmings, there were super tender and flavourful. We surmised that they must've been brined and then deep-fried to achieve this. We didn't care, they were money. Second favourite were the Fire-Roasteed Chicken Wings. Presented on a long skewer, these were also quite moist with a very crispy coating. Slightly sweet and a touch spicy with a bourbon glaze, these actually really good. The Saratoga Chips were very crunchy (a la kettle chips) and served with 3 dips. As for the Tuna Pillars, it was a piece of ahi tuna wrapped in sesame noodles and ginger phyllo pastry. It was served with mango salsa and wasabi aoili. The tuna itself was fresh; but the doughy wrap destroyed the whole thing. It just became a mushy, chewy mess devoid of any real texture. It did taste okay, especially with the mango salsa. Nice combination of sweetness and some kick. But the biggest fail of all were the Lobster & Prawn Fritters with red pepper aoili. I was actually looking forward to these. C'mon, lobster and prawn! However, the fritters themselves were far too doughy with very little in the way of lobster nor prawn. I understand that would be impossible since those are 2 very expensive ingredients. In that case, make the fritters smaller or use a batter than is lighter. I had to resort to picking out the small bits of seafood at the end since they were so hard to eat.

Vandelay decided to have 2 appetizers as opposed to an entree. The first one was the Coconut Lime Mussels. We liked how the mussels were big and plump. Perfectly cooked as well. I was on the fence with the broth consisting of shallots, garlic, lime and coconut cream. It was indeed very creamy and coconutty. However, I didn't get much else. The second appy was the Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with shaved Grana Padano Parmesan, red onions, capers, EVOO and herb crostinis. Nothing wrong with this dish, a textbook carpaccio. Tender and properly seasoned, it was good. For my main, I went for the 9oz Top Sirloin served with mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies. I requested medium-rare and as you can see, it was perfectly executed. I was really happy with the steak, it was moist and very easy to chew. However, I would've preferred more flavour, somehow it came across as a bit bland. The grilled zucchini and beets were perfectly cooked as well with some bite left. The mash potatoes were more potatoey than creamy; but that suited me just fine.

Rich Guy had the 12oz Prime Rib with Chop cut fries and seasonal veggies. He too asked for medium-rare and once again, it was perfect. Nicely marbled and being tender as well, this was a decent prime rib. Yet, once again, it was not as flavourful as we would've like. Initially, the first few fries were very good. I have to admit they were good for chain restaurant fries. However, as we got closer to the bottom, the fries didn't retain their crispy texture becoming a bit limp. They went well with the 3 dips though.

Alright, I'm not afraid to admit it. The meal at Chop was pretty decent. In fact, some parts were quite good. Sure, there were some misses as well; but nothing is perfect. I was actually surprised at the quality of food because I had heard otherwise. Sure, there is an inordinate amount of bling and style; yet, it is intentional. Judging by the clientele, they seemed to be enjoying themselves and their food. Now, on a personal level, I found the prices to be on the higher side. I'd be completely happy going to The Keg instead. I don't need a big screen LCD in the washroom. Then again, if you do and are willing to pay, Chop fits the bill.

The Good:
- They spent a lot of money on decor, ambiance and the bling
- Food is actually pretty decent
- Although a bit sparse at times, service was friendly

The Bad:
- Pricey
- For some people, it could be a little over the top
- As mentioned, service was friendly albeit spotty

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