Photos, story by Cassie Hepler
This isn’t a chain steakhouse. Luckily, you can taste that in every bite.
Independently-owned by P.J.W. Restaurant Group, The Chophouse has been impressing Jersey guests in Gibbsboro, N.J. since 2002.
We headed out on a frigid weekend night and it was packed so much that valet parking was the only option. People checked in with the hostess and bellied up to the bar to wait for the popular steakhouse to prepare their table. Cozy C-shaped leather booths were a romantic option for couples with stone walls and deep stained wood accents abounding the decor. The back of the restaurant’s outdoor patio is where there was a festive party going on complete with professional photographer and balloons overlooking Silver Lake. We didn’t want to intrude but are still super curious how lovely that view can be at sundown.
We popped back over to check on our table and were all set to enjoy our mafia booth seats with full view of the restaurant in action. Having eaten our way through Philadelphia with Explore-Philly.com, we were throughly impressed and forgot a few times we were in the Jersey suburbs.
Like most fine dining steakhouses, sides are a la carte except for a few key dishes and specials. The wine list was thick and impressive with some by-the-glass options available as well. The ChopHouse’s cellars run deep and offer an equally impressive list of steak sipping reds. Specials include Tuesdays for half price bottles, happy hour from 4 t0 7 p.m. every day and Sunday $35 Prime Rib dinner including potato side, soup or salad for only $35 – less than a steak for dinner alone! Happy hour includes wine, martinis (including the notorious pineapple infused vodka Chophouse martini), appetizers and Stella Artois for $4.
We started off with the seared tuna with asian slaw, citrus soy dipping sauce which went way too quickly. It was fresh, cool, delicious and tangy when dipped into the sauce so much so we tempted a non-raw fish eater into eating two pieces! Other apps that tempted our tastebuds included Nola blackened shrimp with remoulade sauce as well as the raw bar (with tons of raw oyster options) that would pair perfectly with the tempting array of champagne options.
The Spanish Rioja, Anares “Reserva” 2011 was a lovely choice with intense cherry flavor, a nose of leather, tobacco and cedar. Very masculine but with a sweet, tart finish, it’s a smart way to cut the steak flavor.
The lobster bisque seems like a must-have staple at any chop house. Creamy and more like a puree, it was not too heavy or filling and serves as a good starter.
The French onion soup was a sloppy mess of baked cheese and bread but tasted amazing. It is much more filling than expected for a soup so tread lightly especially if you double dip from the complimentary bread basket. A true cheese (and onion) lovers delight!
Such a fresh lobster cobb salad with fresh cut corn, tomatoes, radish and even fresher lobster. The light dressing was barely noticeable and every bite filled your body with healthy nutrients. It was delightful and still light enough to enjoy some steak.
One the house specialty list was the 8 ounce Filet Oscar with lump crab, asparagus and bernaise sauce was our choice from the typical surf and turf (which is also an option). We asked for chef’s recommendation on cooking style and it came slightly bloody, fresh and quite a medley of flavors between all the fresh options on the plate – a carnivore’s dream. Also on our radar was the house dry-aged Kona encrusted sirloin. Kona is a Hawaiian coffee and eats away at the meat to make it more tender with a smokiness and slight crusty crunch.
We also tried the 22 ounce Cowboy Steak, a 28 day dry aged bone in ribeye with onion rings. There was a lot of fat and gristle but once you got to the good stuff, it was as spot on as the filet and a little more well done this time.
Roasted brussel sprouts with crispy pancetta was our server’s recommendation and an excellent one at that. There’s something about those healthy sprouts and bacon that makes the mouth sing!
Sherry roasted wild mushrooms were so savory, you would think you can eat the whole bowl easily but in fact, you can only stomach a small portion at a time.
Truffled parmesan fries were so much better than McDonald’s! Just kidding, they are not even in the same ballpark. The truffle oil and thin sliced potatoes make these a carb loving bowl of happiness. We literally could not stop eating them.
The infamous lobster and crab mac and cheese lives up to its cheesy reputation. Not too greasy, not too cheesy and large chunks of seafood make this a winning side – or order a whole plate to share (or not) for the table.
We’re not sure why there are these huge bottles of champagne just taunting us from behind our table, but we liked the way they looked. And we were not the only ones leering at them with lust!
The kitchen was buzzing and servers were flying past us as we took this photo. It is a semi open kitchen so you can see the chefs in action.
We poked our lens into the salad prep area where everyone sort of ducked from the camera. Good job, guys!
A large table that seats about 20 is directly in front of the kitchen as this server checks on her table.
The best server with the best smile, Sean, was attentive, knowledgeable and offered great suggestions as well as tempting us with the specials of the day. He tried his hardest to talk us into dessert and coffee but we would have needed him to roll out the door at this point. Don’t worry, you don’t have to nix your new year resolutions yet. They have gluten-free and low-fat options as well and even though they are fine dining with five star ratings, you can still wear a nice pair of jeans while you savor every bite.
Just in case you have the room in your stomach – and time by the end of your meal, we recommend the Belgian Chocolate Lava Cake which takes 15 minutes to make fresh from scratch. The brownie sundae also sounded amazing. If only we could go back right now after digesting for a night and eat the cake! We’re thinking going back is certainly in order when it’s warmer, we can look out over the lake and eat all the desserts.