Sherman's Food Adventures: Chops Grille (Allure of the Seas)

Chops Grille (Allure of the Seas)

With already our first specialty restaurant in the books, we headed off to our second reservation at Chops Grille. This was on night 4 of our cruise aboard the Allure of the Seas.  Chops Grille is RCCL's specialty steakhouse located on many of their ships (and soon-to-be fleetwide).  Consistent with many steakhouses on land, Chops Grille features traditional decor and a menu featuring steaks with separate sides for sharing with the entire table.

We started with some appies including the Oyster Duet featuring Rockefeller (spinach & Hollandaise gratin) and Kilpatrick (bacon & BBQ- Worcestershire sauce).  Of the 2, I liked the Rockefeller more as it was creamy and only mildly seasoned.  The Kilpatrick was a bit too ketchupy for me despite it not being ketchup.  The oysters were cooked properly not being chewy nor dry.  We also got a couple orders of the Forest Mushroom Soup scented with white truffle oil.  This was very good being creamy with a wealth of Earthiness from both the mushrooms and truffle oil.  One thing we would've liked to see was less salt. My mom had the Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Cake accompanied by a remoulade.  The thick cake consisted of fluffy and moist crab along with peppers which added both spice and sweetness.  It was too bad that the exterior wasn't very crisp.

We had 2 more appies including the Asian-Inspired Spicy Tuna atop crisp black sesame seed and Parmesan crisps with cucumber & avocado salsa, unagi sauce and micro greens.  We found the tuna soft with a spicy finish that lingered in our mouths.  The crunch from the cucumbers and crisps added the needed textural contrast.  Our last appie was one of our favorites being the Smoked Duck Salad. The duck itself was tender and easy to chew, but suffered from too much salt.  Hence it was more salty than smoky.  The orange went well with the duck and somewhat helped tone down the sodium.

Onto the meat (sorry for the pun) of the meal, I had the 18oz Broiled Porterhouse with Cabernet reduction.  I asked for it to be prepared medium-rare and it was mostly that with some medium spots.  I wasn't bothered by this as I've never had a porterhouse that was medium-rare throughout (due to the different steaks on each side).  The reduction had a nice wine flavour that was cooked down properly. Viv decided on the Filet Mignon which was done medium-rare as requested.  It was rested properly where the meat retained most of its juices. However, the meat was not as moist as we were expecting.

My mom decided on the Mixed Grill consisting of a lamb chop, apple-chicken sausage, veal tournedos, bacon, bubble & squeak and veal reduction.  The lamp chop was still moist and quite tender while the veal was dry.  For me, the best part was the bacon as it was crisp and nicely shaped.  In addition to the flavourful and rich veal reduction, my mom tried the Bearnaise which was thick and buttery.  My son, who is not a fan of steak, had the Free-Range Chicken Breast wrapped in crispy pancetta.  Predictably, the white meat was dry and overcooked.  However, the worst part was the lack of flavor despite the pancetta.  With another non-steak dish, my daughter opted for the Alaskan Halibut baked on a cedar plank.  Again, predictably (because halibut is easy to overcook), the fish was stiff and dry.  The herb crumb coating on top actually made it even more dry to eat.

Seeing how we couldn't decide on what sides to order, we ended up trying them all.  We liked how both the Steamed Asparagus and Sauteed Broccolini were just cooked, hence they retained their color and crunch.  The Crimini Mushrooms and Leek were creamy and rich while the Green Beans with Dijon mustard sabayon and feta cheese crumble were still vibrant and crunchy.  However, there could've been a bit more sauce as it was not impactful.  Creamy and smooth, the Double Whipped Mashed Potatoes lived up to its namesake.  With a thick crunchy breading, the Fried Onion Rings were not greasy and prepared very well.  The Roasted Potatoes with prosciutto and Parmesan were soft and really cheesy.  Also with both complimentary ingredients, the dish was quite salty.  Lastly, the Rock Salt Baked Idaho Potato was dry with a very chewy skin.

For dessert, I tried the Red Velvet Cake which was much better than I would've imagined.  It was moist and not incredibly sweet.  On the other hand, the cream cheese icing made up for that being sugary. Plated beautifully, the Chocolate Mud Pie was also surprisingly good.  It was chocolaty and rich being easy on the sugar.  The kids agreed and helped devour it.  Trying to exorcise the demons of the crappy Creme Brulee from the main dining room, my mom gave it another go at Chops.  It was a good decision since the sugar topping was hard and not too thick.  Underneath, the custard had a nice silky consistency albeit pretty sweet. This was a good finish to an enjoyable meal.  Overall, we thought that Chops was worth the cover charge because it offered up something different that was prepared better (not including the non-steak dishes) than the main dining room.

The Good:
- Steaks were more or less prepared properly
- Attentive service
- Different enough than the main dining room to justify the cover charge

The Bad:
- If the entree wasn't steak, it wasn't that good
- Kids can eat there, but not particularly kid friendly


Lee said...

I'm seeing a theme to all of these reviews so far: SALT. Did they forget to pack other spices, so just salt the heck out of everything, or is there something about onboard food prep that results in higher levels of salt use, I wonder?

Sherman Chan said...

@Lee You are right, lots of salt. I heard that sometimes, they use more salt because one's taste is altered at sea? Could be a myth though... And also some of the older folk may have less sensitive taste buds? Again, could be a myth. Or it could be that they just like using salt. It was like this on board the 2 Celebrity Cruises I've been on too...

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