Thursday, 11 December 2008

Lunch at the Chophouse

I just had a very enjoyable feast of meat at the Chophouse in the city. I was really glad to eat there, because with $50 steaks on the menu, I have this horrible feeling that they might not be there at this time next year. Tuck into them wagyu steaks while you still can.

The occasion was a semi-annual visitation to Sydney by The Hof, who currently resides in the soon-to-be-glass part of the middle east. Hof dispenses tips on how to invest in Dubhai shares, which is a bit slow at the moment, given that their market is down 80%. I felt much better after that.

(We went for a paddle on the Bay over the weekend, and I watched a Porsche cruise up and down a dozen times. I took it the driver was taking it for one last spin before the Repo men moved in.)

At lunch were two other fellows who I have not caught up with for some time - mainly because one of them has been in Washington for a few years, and the other has been working hard at destroying our financial markets. Whenever we catch up, I like to remind him that he worked on the issue of the first Australian CDO back in the 1990s. He's generally so keen to change the subject, he'll even shout the meal if we shut up about it.

To lunch.

I liked the place. I liked the decor. Some of these places can be very try hard. This one was not. I would call it "relaxed and comfortable". Most of the clientele were men in suits (with or without jackets) in the age group of 30-50. I didn't look too closely, but I think the only women there were waiting on tables. It really is the sort of place where blokes go to stuff themselves full of cow.

I started by having the tartare of ocean trout, which was superb. Absolutely superb. It was far and away the nicest starter I have had in a long time. I could have eaten six of them. The others had a ceviche of sea scallop, which looked excellent (I did not ask how it was, but it was scoffed pretty quickly, so it can't have been bad) and green figs with prosciutto. The figs also looked beautiful - the presentation of all the starters was top notch, and we said little as we crammed them in.

We washed that down with a bottle of Marquis Phillips Shiraz, which Roger recommended. I'd never heard of it before, but he has drunk a bit of it in the US. I take it that it is a wine made for export, with very little of it showing up on the local market. It went down superbly - a lovely drop with a high alcohol content, and it went straight to my head. It's a very quaffable wine worth looking out for.

For mains, we had meat. Chops and steaks. My rib on the bone was very good, served rare (as I requested) and best of all, we did not have to request mustard or horseradish - a platter of mustards landed on the table with the steaks. The quantities of mustard provided were disappointingly small, but it was good that we got them with asking.

The only thing missing (for me) was a bernaise sauce. I am a total sucker for a good, rare steak with bernaise and fries.

The steaks were also quickly demolished, and we then started on a second bottle of the excellent Marquis. Unfortunately, at that point, I had to depart, so I can't say anything about the desserts or the cheese. But if they were up to standard of the rest of the meal, they'd have been very good.

I just hope this establishment survives the recession - it's very good. I raise questions about its vulnerability because it is located in Bligh St, just around the corner from most of the financial institutions. If they catch a cold, the Chophouse could get very sick. I will be rootin' for it, and showing my support by eating there again next time I am in the city.

There was a downside though. Lunch gave me the shits. I suspect that my body was simply unused to so much raw and near raw meat, and it threw a hissy fit as a result. A couple of tabs of immodium sorted that out, but I might need to do some training before my next meal - having big, rare steaks more often, washed down with a fine bottle of red.

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