The word "steakhouse" conjures decidedly masculine images of dark wood, quilted leather booth benches, dim lighting and carpeted floors. With its blond pine and redwood floors, airy filigree iron light fixtures and ample sunny windows, Chophouse New Orleans (322 Magazine St., 504-522-7902; www.chophousenola.com) flies in the face of steakhouse convention. There's even an outdoor courtyard that's seen its share of romantic dinners.
Chophouse has live music nightly and an extensive wine list. The latter comes in sharp contrast to the steakhouse's tightly focused menu, where USDA prime cuts of beef include an 8-ounce filet. "It's a rarity to find prime filets in a steakhouse, and our 8-ounce filet of rib-eye is our most popular seller," says senior manager Mike Wible. "We only have two fish, and they have to be incredible. Our menu is smaller than most steakhouse menus in the city, but we do execute the menu items to perfection."
That includes starters like carpaccio — a thin layer of prime tenderloin with arugula on top — desserts like cheesecake imported from New York's Carnegie Deli, two types of fish (seasonal Gulf fish and steak cuts of sea bass), a basket filled with fresh-baked breads and a selection of nine types of USDA prime steaks. These are prepared "Pittsburgh style" with a thick charred crust. "Searing the outside of the steak really seals all the juices inside," Wible says. "If you've never had it prepared that way, at first it's shocking to you. We only use the center cuts of all steak, and they're all incredibly thick, because it has to be thick to get the proper char."
All waitstaff are trained for more than two weeks before they serve customers, and the restaurant ensures diners can move through the meal at the pace they prefer. "Maybe they're going to the Saints game afterwards and want to hurry the meal along, or maybe they want to have a long, leisurely, drawn-out meal," Wible says. "We serve at the speed they desire, not at the speed we desire."
The torch-lit back patio is the most popular spot during most times of the year, with piped-in music played live nightly by Amanda Walker or John Autin. "They're part of what helped build our business right off the bat," Wible says of the in-house musicians.
The result is a restaurant that's garnered praise since businessman and Tulane University governing board member Jerry Greenbaum opened its doors two years ago.
"We take a lot of pride in our reviews," Wible says. "People are not going to cut you any slack at this price point. Everything has to be flawless, and we're here to exceed our guests' expectations. To know we have succeeded in doing that on a regular basis is a great motivation."