The Chophouse, tucked away on Bligh St, is unapologetically masculine in its interior decorations. The space, decor and furnishings reminded me a lot of some of the American steak houses that I had the opportunity to visit last year in my US stint, and I love especially the main dining area with what reminded me of a rib cage structure in the ceiling - don't believe me? Look for yourself!
|The gorgeous bar space - check out the lights!|
|The rib cage dining area!|
|The VERY cool private dining area upstairs|
|Sous chef Stu taking us through the different cuts of meat|
|The beast that is known as the Tomahawk...|
As someone who came into this not knowing much at all about steaks, it definitely gave me a huge appreciation of how technical it could be, but what shone through most was the evident passion that Eric and The Chophouse had for the best - the lengths they would go through to work with their providers to source particular cuts of meat, how they tested, obtained and provided feedback continuously - all guided by a passion to not just be a restaurant that churns out steaks, but one that took their steaks seriously! The knowledge and passion that was shown by Eric and his sous chef was both infectious and reassuring - it is nice to know that when you go get a steak, you're going to a restaurant that cares about the quality of what they are plating up, and that they care about where the meat comes from. With all this talk of steak, we were all dying to get down to the kitchen to start cooking!
In the kitchen, Stu gave us a demonstration on how he would trim, roll and then cut into portions a large slab of striploin. Working with a dexterity that screams experience (and some seriously sharp knives!), we watched as perfect 400g steaks (give or take 5%) were formed.
Taking these steaks, we were then introduced to George. For the entire morning, we head heard so much about George, which is clearly the apple of Eric's eye. George is the pet name for this industrial sized broiler, shipped all the way from the United States, which enables The Chophouse to perfectly and evenly cook steaks in half the time it would take normally. The faster cooking process, at a higher heat, broke down the enzymes in the steak, and locked in moisture, producing a higher end product in the end. George was indeed formidable - taking 45 minutes to heat up, George is on for about 12 hours a day and requires a regular service every 6-8 weeks. The Chophouse pioneered George, being the first steakhouse in Australia to bring a broiler in from the US - and the love and affection they hold for George is evident!
|Check out how hot it gets!|
Head chef Eric was fantastic - he had planned to complete our meat education by cooking steaks different ways so we would gain an appreciation for the complexities and the differences that resulted. As such, under the watchful eye of Stu, we cooked steaks in George, on the grill, in the saucepan and finally, a combination of saucepan and oven. During this hands on cooking class, we learned that all Chophouse steaks are cooked in a very technical manner - every steak is measured by temperature, and for a medium rare steak, it needed to be 35 degrees when out of George, and then left to sit until it reached 45 degrees. Every steak was temperature measured - this was a huge learning for me as it wasn't at all based on time, whether the stove top was on high or medium, how the steak looked on the outside, etc. I think I need to go get a digital meat thermometer now!
|Look at George go!|
|The traditional stove top method|
|It may not have been done in George, but there's nothing like the griddle marks on a steak...|
|All resting happily whilst we hovered nearby waiting to eat!|
And of course, when the cooking and the resting of the steaks were over, we finally got to what we were all waiting for - the eating! After having spent the past few hours learning as to the meat's origins, how it is prepared, following its trip from the farm to the restaurant, and then seeing how it is cooked to perfection, we had certainly built up an appetite and we dug in heartily - Eric again overseeing our education to have us taste test each steak according to how they were cooked. And yes, now I know why George is so well loved... his steaks were the best hands down!
|Steaks rested and ready to be eaten!|
|Steaks by George. AMAZING.|
After taste testing all the different steaks, it was clear that the ones done by George were the clear winner. All of the steaks were delicious, regardless of how they were cooked but George was ahead of the rest. They seemed to be more tender, more moist, with an even crust on the outside. For a few minutes, there was nothing but silence but for the occasional "mmmmm, this is SO good" as we all tucked into the steak.
After eating up all the steak, as well as a crumbed pork chop that Eric kindly fixed up (which was also equally delicious!), we were all happy campers... however, when Eric showed us the very generous take home packs, we were even happier campers! As I'm typing this, I'm enjoying the chocolate block whilst the steak is in the refrigerator for tomorrow's lunch, much to my husband's delight.
|Thank you for our take home pack!|
I loved every second of the meat training and cooking class at The Chophouse. It was instructive, informative and of course, delicious, but the part I enjoyed the most was definitely seeing how passionate The Chophouse and their chef are about the quality of the produce that they are plating up for customers. It was reassuring to know that they know so much about where it is sourced from, what is the best out there, and also impressive to see that they take their steak so seriously that they have taken on board George - the first to do so in Australia, and they wield George like old professionals...
Now that I have this appreciation for The Chophouse, I can't wait to come back and dine here. I can't wait to have the pork belly and scallop chopped salad, a steak prepared by George, Eric and Stu and the chocolate block for dessert - I already have my three course meal planned!
Thank you Eric, Stu and The Chophouse - today was amazing!
25 Bligh St, Sydney
Ph: 1300 246 748
PS. I took so many photos but had to draw the line somewhere - can't post them all up!