Chophouse Vintage Year

By on 29 July, 2013 in Food, Kate and Stephen, Restaurant Reviews with 0 Comments

For my birthday this week, my mom took me out to dinner and the result was one of the best meals I have had since moving to Montgomery.

I’m not sure why we hadn’t been to The Chophouse Vintage Year. Maybe it’s because it’s weird for the restaurant to have two names. A steakhouse called The Chop House? Yes, that makes sense. A restaurant known for great wine? Vintage Year is a perfectly decent name. But both? Just pick a name! (And yes, I saw the website where they explain the history of the place and the origins of the names).

I also think we hadn’t been because (as regular readers of this blog know) we are vegetarian. Well, to be clear, we have now mostly abandoned our practice of making exceptions for eating fish. And as a restaurant that is mostly known for serving the meat of cows, it was just never a place that we considered likely to have vegetarian-friendly fare.

Still, with Kate out of the country (and still standing firm on her “no seafood” policy), I decided to create a moral loophole and eat some fish. Because, hey, my mom was buying. And really, The Chophouse Vintage Year doesn’t offer much in the way of non-meat entrees. The only way I was going to get a meal at one of Montgomery’s most highly-regarded high-end restaurants was by ordering from the seafood portion of the menu.

That all said, the sesame crusted Ahi tuna was one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. It was the highlight of a restaurant that goes the extra mile to get all of the details right. The service was professional and friendly. The atmosphere was dim without being dark, and the music was progressive and cool without being overpowering. I’m pretty sure I heard some DJ Shadow and some Portishead. Expecting a bunch of old-timers and regulars set in their Country Club routines, I was completely surprised to find a very progressive, chilled-out and refined vibe.

But the food was the star of the show. My tuna came with a choice of two sides from a decent selection of options. I opted for the succotash and Brussels sprouts. I didn’t know any restaurant knew my wife’s secret trick of searing the Brussels sprouts, but the kitchen knows the trick and executes it to perfection. The tiny cabbages become crispy and spectacular.

If I were forced to find something to complain about, I might say that the sauce that came with the tuna didn’t need to have sesame seeds in it, since the entire piece of fish had been rolled in sesame seeds. And maybe the succotash could have used a little more okra. But any such quibbles are completely overwhelmed by what happens when you dab a bit of the wasabi on the luxurious tuna strips. If they do to their steaks what they do to their tuna, the people that run Chophouse Vintage Year should be millionaires, even if their restaurant has too many names.

My mom had shrimp and linguine and pronounced it to be delicious. I can’t say what it was like last night, but I ate her leftovers for lunch today and it was an outstanding thing to discover in the fridge.

Finally, even if all of these dishes had only been mediocre, the creme brulee would have been worth writing about. As you can tell from the photo above, it was so tempting that we both took bites before we remembered to take a photo. And once we had broken through the absolutely perfect crystalline glaze that tops the dessert, it was difficult to even take the time to reach for the camera. The pudding portion has notes of vanilla, with overtones of the kind of holy bliss that inspires Renaissance art.

All in all, the pricetag for a high-end restaurant means that it’s not an every week kind of adventure to someone in our economic class, but for the special occasion when we want to luxuriate, we are definitely going back, even if it’s just for a drink at the bar and an item from the dessert menu.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, four fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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