This week I was invited to go to Chophaus in Oakwood to try their new summer menu. I took a friend, but not before we had browsed Chophaus’ menu online, enough to tempt even the reluctant post-lockdowners to venture out once again.
I cycled to the restaurant and was glad to see a bike rack right outside, which was very convenient considering I got a little lost en route and was not as early as usual.
My friend was already waiting outside, so we went straight in. We were greeted by a waiter, who was wearing a face covering, and were shown to a table next to one of the balconies on the first floor. We both loved the smoky, BBQ smell pervading the restaurant.
The interior of Chophaus is beautiful. I love the oversized lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling and the wooden beams draped with greenery. I also loved how light and airy the restaurant was, thanks in part to the open balconies. The tables were all well-spaced too, which is a must in this strange un-lockdown, almost post-COVID world.
After a quick catch up, we ordered some drinks – water for me and a mojito for my friend, and we were given paper menus to order our food.
We decided to order dishes to share, so we could discuss our thoughts. So, to start, we opted for the jellied ham hock and parsley terrine, which came with a fiery piccalilli and toast. The terrine was flavoursome, and thankfully, was much more ham than jelly. The portion was generous, so there was plenty for us both to try and to savour.
We also ordered the chicken wings with a balsamic glaze to start. Although we were both looking forward to the wings, and there was a generous quantity, we were disappointed that the chicken skin wasn’t crispy. However, the meat was flavoursome and moist.
With main courses still to look forward to, we ordered the sea bream and a rump steak. Readers may agree that it is always very satisfying when a chef delivers a steak just as ordered. We had asked for medium, and it was! The first big tick for Chophaus mains.
The steak came with the classic combination of roasted tomato, grilled mushroom and watercress – nice, but we were glad that we also ordered extra sides (carrots and truffle mac and cheese). The carrots were brilliantly al dente, and although the mac and cheese was tasty, we both thought it was overly truffled. The sides were generous, and we struggled to finish them both.
The sea bream was cooked to absolute perfection – flaky, with crispy skin. It was also well seasoned, which ticks another important box. The fish was accompanied by a mix of courgette, tomato, capers and brown shrimp, which was a little odd, especially as it had a creamy sauce which I couldn’t identify, but it was tasty and went well with the fish. The dish also came with a fondant potato, which was soft and well cooked. Overall, it was delicious, and a lighter option than the steak.
Although we were both pretty full from our starters and mains, we couldn’t say no to dessert. We opted for the Eton mess and the caramel cheesecake. Before they arrived, we tried to imagine how they might be served, deciding if the cheesecake would be square or a triangle, and the Eton mess in a glass or on a plate. We didn’t have a chance to agree as the desserts arrived within minutes.
The Eton mess was not so messy! Instead, it was plated with berries in the centre of the plate and meringues and cream around the outside. Not what we expected, but not disappointing, either, especially as the classic flavours were all there. We liked the addition of berry coulis, which helped to bring everything together, but we both agreed that the meringues were too big, which made eating the dish tricky.
The cheesecake was also not served as we expected. Instead of being square or triangular, the cheesecake had been deconstructed, with the biscuit base served as a crumble, and the cheesecake centre served like ice cream. The cheesecake was served with verjuce poached raisins, which gave a nice extra texture. We didn’t manage to finish the cheesecake, but it was delicious.
Overall, our evening at Chophaus was great. We loved the interior décor and thought the space was airy and fresh. Our waiters were all helpful, friendly and followed the COVID guidance, which is important for many diners. The food had the depth of flavour we all hope for in every meal, especially when dining out.
We particularly loved the main courses and both agreed that we would return for that perfect steak before too long.
All photographs by Gemma Bridge.