on the coat tails of joe muer's revival, the london chop house has returned to the d 21 years after shutting its doors. i tried it on monday night with three fellow diners before the wings game. i started my career downtown just before the chop house closed. sadly, i never had the chance to eat at the original. the new place is owned by the gatzaros family, owners of wahoo (around the corner - they own the building) and everyone's favorite -- fishbones (stop - don't make a snap judgement based on this lineage).
they spent a lot of money on the place, but the rent is probably cheap.
i called earlier in the day and made a reservation for 5:45. the woman that answered the phone was pleasant and curtious and asked if this was for a special event and if i had any special requests. nice touch. nothing special, just a meal before a game.
i walked to the place from my office. there is a valet at the front door and he charges $10. but keep in mind, the restaurant is on the ground floor of an office building on congress so they do not have a parking lot. you can park in a deck next to the post three blocks down the street or in a surface lot across the street or on the next block, but you will still pay at least $10 or more if it is a game night.
i walked in the front door and down a dimly lit flight of carpeted stairs where i was greeted by the hostess who had a smile and a warm greeting. she took me around the corner into the dining room and sat me at my table. water showed up immediately, followed by a basket of crusty, sliced baugette. my waiter came by soon after asked how many would be dining (i was the first to arive), if i had a time comitment (the game), if i would live to order a drink, and handed me the wine/cocktail menu.
the room is retro yet modern and and clubby - a guy's steakhouse: dark wood, dimly lit (one of my guests had to use the light from his phone to read the menu), black table cloths, red leather banquettes, big oak bar. here are some pics of the new dining room http://www.thrillist.com/food/detroit...
contrast this with a picture of the old dining room that i found on line - some similarities, but updated and different http://www.cardcow.com/291397/london-...
two of my guests arived within five minutes. our fourth let us know he was running late so we flagged our witer down and told him that we would like to order drinks and our meals so we could make the game. we ordered beers (pilsner urquel on draft, along with a couple of michigan beers and basic domestics and imports) and meals for all four of us (the power of texting). beers showed up followed by salads. i took a very brief look at the wine list and it looked like a moderate selection (not the tome you get at the capital grille) with prices ranging from $30/$40 to $400+.
here is a link to the menu page of their site http://detroitchophouse.com/menu.html but there are no prices. overall, the prices were high (it is a steakhouse) but not stratospheric.
we did not have time for appetizers but they have a classic theme: shrimp cocktail, crabcakes, escargot, oysters, scallops, tartare, etc. apps ranged from $10 to $17 and market pricing for oysters and caviar.
soups and salads are also traditional steakhouse: chop house, caesar, wedge, caprese. the roasted beet & arugula and the crab and hearts of palm sounded interesting. soups include french onion, du jour, clam chowder, and crab bisque. i opted for the bisque ($7) with safron and cayenne infused oils. decent flavor and some small lumps of crab meat. good, but not as good as the cup of lobster bisque that i had at the d.a.c. for lunch. one had the wedge ($10) and two had chop salads ($12).
our waiter stopped by shortly after the salads/soup were delivered and asked us about the status of our fourth diner. we told him that he was five minutes out. he told us that several other tables had been seated and would be ordering soon. he asked us if we wanted him to put our entrees in now or wait until our fourth arived, adding that if we waited, we would be behind several other tables which might delay our departure and miss the beginning of the game. nice attentive touch.
the entrees are headed by three signature items: veal oscar, braised short ribs, and dover sole meuniere. i opted for the short ribs ($35), which are braised eight hours and served over a celery root puree and topped with a heap of crispy fried leeks. there was a nice merlot reduction sauce that was a welcome addition. the meat was fork tender and a decent sized, two rib portion. it was a touch underseasoned - salt and the reduction helped. pretty good, but i would try something else next time.
my guests had the 14 oz new york strip ($40 - decent looking steak), pan seared salmon with pecan and basil pesto and white wine braised leeks ($25 - looked very good but a bit small), and roasted free range chicken breast (single breast with wing attached) with crispy potato/creamed corn and a molasses and bacon reduction ($26 - he said it might have been the best piece of chicken he ever had).
we also ordered a side of mushrooms to share - a generous plate for $8. our waiter also suggested the asparagus or the roasted cauliflower with gruyere, but we settled on just the mushrooms. all of the sides were $6-$10.
steaks include filet (6oz or 10oz), flat iron (10 oz), bone in rib eye (24oz), and a 32oz porterhouse for two. the petite filet was $30 and the porterhouse topped out at $78.
other selections include surf & turf, lamb chops, lobster pasta, perch, seared tuna, and shrimp, which ranged from $25-$40 plus whole lobster and alaskan crab legs at market price.
we did not have time for desert, coffee, or after dinner drinks. tab for four with one round of beers was $211.
by the time we walked out, the dining room was 75% full and not many looked like they were heading over to the game - not bad for a monday night.
overall, the london chop house was very good and i would go again. nice ambiance, very good service (attentive, professional, but not overbearing), and the food was good. next time, i would like to try the beet salad and the flat iron steak with the cauliflower. nice to see another good place open up downtown. let's see if it has legs beyond the initial nostalgic curiosity (will hour magazine quickly move to name l.c.h. its 2012 restaurant of the year next month a la joe muer's?!?).
here is a link to a good write up about the old london chop house http://restaurant-ingthroughhistory.c...
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