The city seems overrun with cattle these days - you can barely go a block without walking by a steak house. Perhaps the stereotype of the businessmen chowing down on a hunk of cow while talking million dollar deals rings true. Regardless, I wouldn't want to be a nice, grass-fed cow strolling down these city streets.
Chophouse isn't so different from any other steak house, maybe except for the huge bone-like cavern you dine under. You get the feeling that you're inside a cow; ironic considering a cow is soon to be inside you. On a weeknight, the bar is littered with suits and the dining area eventually fills with them too.
The options of sourdough or soy linseed bread are welcome, though I must admit they're not the best examples of either I've had. Much more fun is the menu, which is a rather interesting blend from around the world: think sashimi next to risotto next to gravlax next to gumbo. My head's on a global whirlwind - thank goodness for the specials.
The schoolies have been cooked to a point where the prawn shells are delectably crispy and edible, and look like they could easily be popped into one's mouth. Which they can, they were sensationally good. The flavour hit of the spiced salt on the prawns was like a double whammy after the initial crunch. The spicy mayonnaise added a smooth and creamy dimension, but really the prawns could have been on their lonesome own and still fantastic.
The generous serve of risotto was probably a bit much for an entree - but I suppose one can work up an appetite pushing a big deal or corporate entertaining or whatever it was the suits were doing. Creamy with cheese and soft rice, it was pretty as a picture and somehow convinced the petite diner to finish the dish clean. Cheeses and zucchini flowers tend to have those persuasive powers.
The gumbo certainly sounded intriguing but there seemed to be something missing - like prawns or scallops. The red hue of the soup belies its spicy tendencies but the seafood hit of the soup is really something else. There didn't look to be a great deal of neither seafood item in its full form in the bowl, but its presence was definitely made known in the soup with its rich prawn-iness and the overall sweetness of a lot - and I mean a lot - of seafood.
For an American-style chopped salad, I've got to say this is pretty Sydney - or Sydney a few years ago at least; at the beginning of its scallop and pork belly love affair. It's a gigantic salad brimming with plump bits of scallop and naughtily luscious slices of pork crispy pork belly. The dressing is appropriately light and tarty to combat some of the richness but overall - very Sydney, and I like it.
With mains arriving, we soon realise that servings lean towards the really big end of the scale. The seriously thick lamb chops are cooked to a medium-rare and are served quite plainly with a dish of mint sauce.
This hunky looker is a feast for the eyes and tastebuds, and subsequently, the stomach. The pasture-fed rib on the bone is a tasty cut that needs little more than the jus and and the sweet chutney that sits by its side.
The Delmonico is an impressive cut; refined and streamlined even. It's another huge serving, alone with the jus and chutney as before.
The salad side is our shared, token healthy dish. The cute whole heads of baby-crunchy lettuce were wincingly sour with their lemon dressing; the mozzarella cheese providing a lightly creamy diversion.
The standout star of the night happens to be an innocent old side - the cauliflower gratin. Looking unassuming with its darkened crusty edge, the cauliflower florets are immersed in exceedingly creamy - but exceedingly good - gruyere mixture. The vegetable is baked to a soft sweetness that I never knew existed in cauliflower. It's a beautiful relationship between the cauliflower and the cheese - a very loving one, in my opinion.
And with that, hours have passed and it would seem that some business was still being conducted. Honestly, business was probably the last thing on my mind as after the quite large meal I'd just consumed, I wasn't looking to bed down a deal - I was just looking for a bed to lie down in.