Cowboy Steak for Hardcore Carnivores at Chop Chop Steakhouse
The 500g bone-in rib-eye steak on my plate was a beast of a steak, suitable for a hardcore carnivore or a rugby player. How to approach it, and where to make the first cut? Skilfully seared and charred, the savoury aroma was irresistible. Tentatively I cut a slice from the end of the steak; it was perfectly seasoned, flavoursome and delicious.
But as I chewed on, I realised why the rib-eye is often called the Cowboy steak. Cut from the rib section, the connective tissue was hard to chew, and the large nuggets of fat, while important for flavour, rang warning bells for cholesterol. No problem for a macho cattle rancher in the semi-arid savannas of southern Zimbabwe, but perhaps not the best choice for someone who spends hours sitting in front of a computer.
Still on the quest to find a great piece of steak, we had come to Chop Chop Brazilian Restaurant, one of Harare’s most popular steak houses. George made an inspired choice when ordering a 350g aged T bone steak ($114). Lean and tender, part sirloin and part tenderloin, this cut combines the best of both worlds. Well seasoned and grilled to medium-rare by Chop Chop’s chef, it came close to being the best steak tasted so far.
Depending on your taste, be sure to specify whether you want your steak done well-done, medium or medium rare. If, like the French, you prefer your steak au bleu (rare) it will have been seared on the outside, remaining raw inside. As you try out different steaks, you’ll be able to differentiate between a lean and flavoursome but slightly tough rump steak, a butter-soft fillet steak, and an exclusive, hard to find fillet on the bone. The first cut being the deepest, plunge your knife into the middle of the steak to discover whether it has been cooked as you requested. Once you have sliced off and devoured your delicious steak, pick up the bone and enjoy what meat remains. (Of course, if you’re trying to make a good impression or you’re at a fine dining restaurant, you can forgo this treat.)
At Chop Chop, our steaks were served with a gloopy, flour-enriched mushroom sauce that I thought detracted from the flavour of the steak. The first servings of chips we received were unevenly cut, varying in colour from pale to dark brown, and flaccid. Our helpful waitress took them back to the kitchen and returned with slightly crisper chips of a better colour. The pre-dressed salad of iceberg lettuce, tomato and carrot was slightly soggy, and a poor companion to a steak costing $125. On the plus side, steak knives and linen table napkins, a rarity in local restaurants, were provided.
We left the sunny, main dining area next to the bar and moved to a table near the entrance of the restaurant, next to the coffee machine and the cake display fridge. After admiring the cake selection, we chose a slice of Black Forest cake ($21) to share, and ordered two cappuccinos. The triple-layered cake was freshly baked, generously piped with fresh cream and sprinkled with chocolate shavings. Made from Leopard Forest Coffee grown, roasted and packed in the misty Bvumba mountains, the cappuccinos were exceptional. Whether due to the skills of the barista, or to the quality of Leopard Forest Coffee, the lingering flavour of the cappuccino, rather than the desire to eat another steak, will lead me back to Chop Chop.
Each time I’ve tried to book a table at Chop Chop, the telephone has remained unanswered, and email requests for a reservation have been ignored.Chop Chop is one of those places where ‘you pays your money and you takes your chances’ so if you prefer a confirmed booking, choose a restaurant where someone will answer the phone. A Matter of Taste with Charlotte Malakoff
Chop Chop Brazilian Restaurant
Herbert Chitepo Avenue
Open daily 07.00 – 22.00
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