Chop Shop is a new self-proclaimed ‘vibrant, casual “butcher-shop” inspired’ restaurant from New York’s Altamarea Group and is unsurprisingly heavily influenced by NYC culinary favourites, all styled internally to include a touch of London’s edginess – think Soho or East and ironically not it’s tourist-haven location of Haymarket.
It is a steak and grill restaurant with an interesting menu that, although it does reflect the interior design on show at many of the recently opened trendy American steak restaurants, is a really fun, chilled-out place to go.
The look is industrial and urban – with exposed brickwork, worn dark-wooden floors and panelling, steel, exposed services, neon lights and reclaimed tiles. The long, thin layout sandwiched between two brick walls with its’ hard surfaces makes it feel a little as though you are eating in an alleyway. The darkness of the restaurant by night, punctuated by the large industrial lights placed above some tables in the same way as an interrogation room in the movies, together with the meat cleavers and knives playfully protruding from the wall, creates an intriguing atmosphere. This strangely contrasts with the softer touches; tea lights on each table and dotted around on shelves and the decorative tiled-panels giving a slight Mediterranean feel.
Really friendly staff with an informal manner and relaxed indie-music played loudly throughout, all add to the cool vibe.
The menu itself is fun and encourages a sharing approach, although it can be fairly confusing to a first-timer. It is divided into ‘bites’, ‘jars’, ‘planks’, and ‘crocks’ which are small sharing-style plates (bites and jars), wooden boards (planks) or starters (crocks) that you can mix and match or even have a selection as your main. All sounded and looked so delicious that I could easily have ordered the lot. Thankfully there are more comprehensive sections to the menu – ‘steak and chops’ and well...’mains’. The selection of steak and meat is impressive and there are delicious sounding sauces such as, ‘red wine bone marrow’ and ‘vodka bacon peppercorn’ to accompany them. Each steak coming out of the kitchen did look extremely good.
Resisting the very reasonably priced express set menu, to start we ordered the orange and rosemary olives and crispy hot wings with a cashel blue cheese sauce from the ‘snacks and bites’ section and a Duck liver mousse jar. The olives were delicious, as was the mousse however the Chicken wings were the stand-out dish. It is a shame these are a ‘bite’ as I could have eaten twice the amount. The name is spot-on as these were hot and spicy indeed, with a fiery chilli flavour. The gorgeous blue cheese sauce cut through this spiciness perfectly – they were divine.
For our main we both chose the patty melt sandwich. Somehow expecting a burger, I was initially disappointed when two triangular sandwiches were placed in front of me. That disappointment wore off when I bit into the toasted, slightly oily bread, the medium-rare beef patty, melted cheese and caramelised onions. It was a good sandwich accompanied by a tasty, thick and creamy mustard dip, small pickled onions/gherkins and really more-ish salty fries. It was deceptively filling and enjoyable.
For dessert I could not resist the sound of the ‘Chop Shop brownie sundae’ which was chewy, rich fudge brownie cubes with a lovely vanilla ice cream, heavenly warm peanut butter sauce, salted peanuts and the most fantastically sinful dark chocolate sauce dripped all over.
Not normally one to favour dessert having more of a savoury tooth than sweet, this was one of the most delicious desserts I have had! Simple yes, but all of the ingredients you could hope for in a dessert.
Dinner at the Chop Shop was a really enjoyable experience. We ate good, tasty American food in a trendy, sharp restaurant that had a really great atmosphere. I would definitely try the steaks next time and the cocktail menu is also pretty tempting. This is somewhere I look forward to returning to either for dinner or for post-work drinks and snacks (chicken wings!) Anything goes here and it is a great addition to the ever-growing group of American restaurants in the capital.