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Friday, November 23, 2012

The Chop House - Howland

The campaign is over. The appropriate mourning period has passed. I have thrown off the black mourning cloths and I am on the road again taking care of the important business of food!!! Politicians come and politicians go, but food is here forever.

This past week my wife and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. The card my son sent to us had the most appropriate of messages: the adventure continues. Well…maybe not quite an adventure but certainly we are never bored. One of the reasons I married my wife is because she would always eat her half of the pizza and fight me mine. Gotta love someone who will fight for the last piece of pepperoni!!! To this day we have always enjoyed a good meal!

To celebrate we joined some friends for dinner at the Chop House in Howland next to the old Avalon Inn. Years ago, before it was the Chop House, it was Opus. The owners had an adventuresome chef who introduced the Mahoning Valley to stacked food. Well….maybe the Mahoning Valley wasn’t ready for stacked food. We are at heart a spaghetti and meatball kind of town. Other folks associated with Opus went on to purchase the 422 and successfully modernized that old war horse into what is one of my favorite restaurants in the area. But I digress!!!

The Chop House does a good job at consistently well prepared food. I have never had a bad meal there. On the other hand, I have never had a great meal there…and that’s okay. Dependable reliability is half the battle. This past visit I had Filet Sinatra…filet o’ beef medallions sautéed with mushrooms, peppers and onions in a tomato based sauce. It was really good. I personally prefer another local restaurant’s version, but this filled the bill and was worth the trip. On the super plus side, my wife sampled one of their salmon specials with butternut squash, and she told me it was the best salmon she has had out in a long time. And she’s picky!!!!! One of my favorites there is Veal Briar Hill. This is an Italian specialty rooted in the Briar Hill section of Youngstown and a specific region in Italy: pan fried veal served with mushrooms and peas (yes…peas) and served in a light marinara sauce over spaghetti. I have actually seen this mentioned on several regional Italian cooking television shows. It’s the real deal and very good. And oh ya…ixnay the salad that comes with dinner and opt to spend a few bucks extra on the Chop House salad which is terrific. The smaller portion is big enough for two and worth the money.

The problem with the Chop House, if it actually is a problem, is the menu seems a tad tri-polar…between haute cuisine, steaks, and Italian food. I think the owner’s heart is one place but in our area, any restaurant owner has to be pragmatic. The result is one can’t get their mind wrapped around what kind of a restaurant this is supposed to be...especially because it is one of the prettiest restaurants in the area!!! The outside entrance is California chic. Since its inception it has oozed modernity and sophistication. The bar off to the right when you walk in is one of the outstanding bar spaces. Just walking through the door you feel like you are in someplace special. It screams for sophisticated food. You want to be dressed to the nines. So you are a tad thrown off expectations when you look at a menu that looks like a roadhouse steak menu with Italian food.

All that being said, that roadhhouse steak menu with Italian food is pretty darn good. I only get up there sporadically, but I am going to try to visit more often. The service is outstanding and friendly…the ta-da girls only a little irritating. And walking through the door you can still pretend to be entering the restaurant featured at the end of Mrs. Doubtfire. For those of you in the Boardman/Canfield area…spend the gas and drive to Howland!!! You will enjoy it. And they take reservations…always a plus.

A tri-polar four meatballs

The Warren Chop House
9519 E. Market Street
Warren, Ohio 44484

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