Monday, March 7, 2011

Blood Spatter Analysis (aka, Welcome to Chophouse)...

I don't know what you and your boyfriend spends your days and nights doing, but at our place the last few weeks has been all about Dexter. We've drawn the blinds. We've silenced the phones. We've eschewed friends, family and social obligations. We've forgotten the mail. We've made tea, brought snacks and set ourselves up on a mountain of pillows, simply fixated, and sucked in episode after nerve throttling episode, to the point of actual backache and potential bedsores. And then beyond. If you haven't had the pleasure of acquainting yourself with the fictional and very murderous goings on at Miami Metro, then leave it to me to fill you in. Pick a donut and get comfy. Tonight's the night.
There's the sisterly sliver we all know and love as Debra Morgan. The detective with the mostest invective. The only thing badder than  her fabulous-one-'fuck-me'-a-minute-foul mouth is her taste in men - Quinn?! I mean seriously Deb, how could you! There's sweet, protective Angel Batista, forever searching for that misplaced la passion and all the while searching from beneath those funny little hats. Got to love LaGuerta, with her struts and her lollipop coloured suits - but not everyone does. And last, littlest but not least, Vincent Masuka. I don't know what sums him up more, his nerdy, shy Vince-laugh, his penchant for lemon custard donuts or these two words: 'autoerotic mummification'. And then... there's Dex. Dexter Morgan of the Broad shoulders and the ingenious strategy. Soulfully soul-less Dex. Daddy Dex. Hubby Dex. Professional Dex. Dex and his Dark Passenger. The Dex of The Code of Harry. The hero of those tactile, vivid credits who fries his bacon real close up and laces his shoes in marvellous macro but never, ever, ever learns to put his phone on silent during a kill! Dex. Obsessed. I love the plots and the characters and the knives and the gore and the splashing red. Mostly, I love the blood. Ahhh, the blood. The blood. Red. Red. Redder.
Blood, sometimes it sets my teeth on edge. Other times it helps me control the chaos. CakeKnifeKillers, the only snag a pescetarian like me has with watching Dexter is that it really, really makes me want a bloody steak. Did I emphasize the want enough? I want a steak. I want a sharp, silver blade. I want The Steak + The Knife. I want to cut and chop and watch blood seep from beast onto an innocent but willing white plate. A rare, bloodied, bone dangling slab of scarlet-seared flesh. Oh, if only Dexter Morgan really existed.  
If Dexter Morgan really existed I would (after clearing it with Danny first) take him to lunch. I'd have no trouble deciding where. It would have to be someplace dark, hidden. Cosy and intimate and dusky. But stylish and sleek. A place where his Dark Passenger could feel at home. It would need to have knives, sharp, sharp knives. And amazing steak. It would need to have some nice, cold beer and be faintly redolent of an early 19th Century abattoir. Yeah, I know exactly where i'd take Dex, Bligh Street's clandestine black star, a place so good I almost want to keep it a secret: the New York inspire Chophouse. Yeah. Chophouse. Dex would not only appreciate the irony in that, I bet he'd also find lunch here well and truly up his ali(mentary canal).
Former Quay man and now Chophouse executive chef David Clarke's menu is a fictional serial killer's foodie dream - but even the non-homicidal among us can appreciate damn epic meat and we-thought-of-absolutely-everything sides. The produce driven line up is about as brutally raw and saucy as carnivoredom can get. Think: free-range tender stretched double lamb chops with mint jelly, picture crumbed pork chop saddled with hazelnut sage and applesauce, think 380 gram pasture fed rib on the bone. Fancy without being fussy.  But before we stick a knife - at a deft, dark 90 degree angle into any beast's heart, there's something you ought to know first.
Chophouse ain't just a meat packing boys club: The ceviche of hiramasa kingfish w european radish, organic flowers + avruga caviar is about as pretty and delicate (and dare I say, girlie?) as Rita - but twice as deep and way more interesting. Pale pink, shimmering oily fish beneath a flowery tangle in purples and greens and reds is as charming on the mouth as it is on the eye. The delicate and muted kingfish is sharpened by the radish and filled out by teeny tiny droplets of caviar that add a spark of salty-oiled snap. Twirl it around your fork and decorate your mind with it, it's edible whimsy. 
the butter poached W.A rock lobster w roasted spring onion + fennel risotto sounded like something we would kill for, but we opted instead for the coconut tempura rock lobster w green mango, papaya, asian herbs + spiced coconut. Straight like a love knife through the heart. The rich and crispy faintly-salted coconut skinned lobster plays wonderfully with the bang on mango-papaya relish type salad. Spiked and sharp and spiced. It spins between vaguely Vietnamese and Thai flavours - but amiably commits to neither.
The market fish was a brilliantly executed red snapper grilled like Doakes after Lila lit the fire in the cabin - and just as satisfying. It came with a labna dappled, black oil spiked salady garnish that almost made you wish you slept with fishes (or with red snapper at the very least). Read between the lines: Chophouse isn't just a steakhouse offering token seafood for the good-fat gobbling, carb-watching ladies + gents, it's as dedicated to the crustaceans as as it is to the cows. Right. Moo-ving along. 
The Dry Aged Delmonico pasture fed striploin on the bone was a rare, tender, dijon dazzled thing of a true and unequivocal beauty. Luscious melty sweet-salt-meat that draws you into each momentous mouthful and takes you far, far away. It comes with a nifty antique-like blade that slices through the slippery red sinews so quickly and effortlessly that you find yourself at bone's edge far too soon. To see the steak come out all on its lonesome is perfect plate theater. You want nothing but a shallow circle of white to take in all of the bright red, grilled brown, ivory bone-lined beauty of the striploin. This is an epic main, very, very exciting to fall into. From the blood stains on the plate, I would say Danny attacked it from the front, at an elevated and alacritous downward angel. The mess would indicate he was in a hurry and the gnawing teeth marks on the bone should be able to bring back a strong DNA match. With only a bite of his steak in a rare flight of pescetarian deviance, I stayed put on the otherside of the table - and a whole entire world away. Watching the smile and the speed and the glint in his eyes.
Both of us in the unfortunate throes of soul destroying detox meant that we only eyed off the shoestring fries and the cauliflower gratin w sourdough and gryuere. Please don't make the same mistake we did and put your liver before your stomach. We did however cave when it came to the dessert menu. Dessert. I know. It's a battlefield where many brave soldiers full of good intentions and barrels of will power have gone down - a bloodied, blithering defeated mess. Keeping our detox in mind, we only had one teaspoon of each. Fuck me. Do you want to know what a teaspoon of delectable dessert and a fingertip's breadth of a smidgen of soul-blazing chocolate tasted like? Do you?
The caramelised almond-studded banana cheesecake w butterscotch. Oh my good God. It's like someone drove up into Northern NSW, took the Big Banana, somehow made it real and ripe and full, and then took all of that gargantuan bananay expanse and condensed it into the single, teeny, tiny silver teaspoon of cheesecake I ate. The texture isn't as firm as most cheesecakes, those of you who like to sink a fork into a stiff  set creamy-cheese depth will have to cast expectations aside. This baby is far more delicate. The caramelised banana infuses all the way from fork through mouth - to brain, it has a gorgeous burnt-sweetness to it that still manages to taste exactly like the real, ripe fruit. In a Canon-induced stuff up, my camera died before I could snap the 150 gram Chophouse branded swiss milk chocolate bar w caramelised hazelnuts. Sad But True. This heavenly chocolatey brick is brought to the table on a chopping board and bashed senseless in front of you with a miniature cleaver: spewing golden nut-flickered splinters and fragments of gleaming chocolate everywhere. A frenzied flash of sweet, smooth Umber-brunette-brilliantly-brown-cocoa. Looking at the reflective chocolate surface beneath Chophouse's honeyed lights... I believe Deb said it best: Sweet Mary-mother of fuck that's Good! Just. Kill. Me. Do it now. Dexter or anyone. This in-house chocolate is funky like the 90's, fabulous like a mink coat and quirky, beserky dessert genius. So simple and so different. The chocolate itself is amazing but just the idea of it was enough to actually wound me with approval and joy. It's probably a good thing I don't have a picture, i'd be going mad, and so would you. 
Finished off with a glimmering and scintillating penelope sach lemongrass + ginger infusion, I was as happy as Masuka on star trek night at a strippers club.

Chophouse is at 25 Bligh St, Sydney. Ph 1300 246 748. Website here. With private dining rooms, one of Sydney's most dramatic spaces and impeccable food and wine, where else would you be from 12 - late Mon - Fri or from 6pm on Sat?

Every night's the night to take on Chophouse. Well, maybe not Sunday when they're closed - but every other night at least. If I could see that caramelised hazelnut slab of swiss Chophouse chocolate again, oh I will see it again. I have my eye on it. And what else will there be left to say before I take it into that dark dangerous oblivion that lies beyond my mouth but... You're mine now. 

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