Claim your steaks

Another contender has just muscled its way onto my personal favorite-steak-in-Indiana list… St. Elmo’s in Indy remains the sentimental choice, and Joseph Decuis in Roanoke certainly satisfies with hospitality and top-shelf Wagyu beef, but Chop’s Steak and Seafood in Fort Wayne has just blazed onto my scene with a sizzling debut.

Chops Steaks and Seafood in Fort Wayne

This locally owned strip mall steakhouse on the western side of town has actually been around since 2003, but only recently came to my attention thanks to a fellow freelancer friend in Fort Wayne. I had opportunity to visit for dinner last week, and was seriously impressed with what I saw and what I ate.

Be forewarned if you’re expecting a quiet evening of intimate conversation — the restaurant is on the loud side. And the signature chopped salad could have used a little more dressing (I like my salads fairly saucy), but the tender 7 oz. filet mignon I received was outstanding. It arrived atop bacon cheddar mashed potatoes with some veggies on the side, cooked to a perfectly pink-but-not-bloody medium degree of doneness just as requested. Lesson learned. I will never order steak in a restaurant anything other than medium ever again. This meat was perfection. Did I mention the big pat of horseradish butter on top, melting slowly into the beef? Aw. Yeah. My friend also was very pleased with her ginormous black and blue ribeye, giving it her best shot before crying uncle halfway through. She said the leftovers made a fabulous lunch the next day.

filet with horseradish butter

To sample the seafood, my dining companion and I shared five plump grilled shrimp, which we dunked into a cocktail glass full of cocktail sauce nearly spicy enough to rival St. E’s. One bite of this stuff made my nose tingle and my eyes water, in a good way. I was hooked.

grilled shrimp

Also worth noting — Chop’s features not one, but TEN house wines by the glass for $5.50, and what a glass it is. If it had been any more full, I would have had to slurp some off the top before being able to safely raise my glass without sloshing. The Malbec I enjoyed was light and lovely. If you’re a wine drinker, I daresay this has got to be one of the best deals in town.

To that end, Chop’s also operates an adjoining wine bar next door that serves its own highly tempting menu of trendy plates both small and large. The CWB burger on pretzel bread, pork belly sliders, Latin-spiced lamb riblets, and an Asian-inspired chicken and waffles with Korean chili-garlic glaze and a cashew slaw make me want to look at my calendar to see how quickly I can get back up to Fort Wayne again.

Our bill for two very full glasses of wine (which honestly was more like four glasses) and two entrees was right at $70, which seemed plenty fair for food and drink of this quality. If you covet red meat done right, definitely check into Chop’s on your next trip to the Fort.

For more info, visit www.chopswineanddine.com.

Chop's Steak & Seafood on Urbanspoon

Destination dining at its best

I know what you’re thinking. “Roanoke? Where the heck is Roanoke? I don’t want to drive nearly two hours from Indianapolis just to have dinner at some little place out in the middle of nowhere!”

Trust me. Yes. You do. Because this little tiny town is home to Joseph Decuis, master of fine dining, accommodations and all things hospitable. This enterprise encompasses a lovely B&B, restaurant, culinary classes and events, and a cafe-style emporium/gourmet market.

Joseph Decuis in Roanoke

I stayed at the Joseph Decuis Inn in two summers ago when I was in nearby Huntington for a freelance gig, and regretted not having a chance to eat at the restaurant then. So when I knew I’d be coming back to the area this week, a dinner reservation here was the first plan I made.

As I write this, I’m once again relaxing in the cozy confines of the inn (I’m actually the only guest this evening and have the whole place to myself! Winning!), rubbing my contently full belly and dreamily smiling as I think of the meal I’ve just consumed at the Joseph Decuis restaurant down the street.

the dining room view from my table

I could wax on all night about the cozy ambiance, the attentive service,and the adorable setting of Roanoke itself. But instead, I’ll let the food speak for itself.

roasted beets starter

My meal started off with an absolutely gorgeous chef-chosen appetizer of roasted baby beets with frisee lettuce, local honey, slices of Capriole Farms’ Old Kentucky Tomme cheese and a scattering of crunchy pistachios. Perhaps I should mention, I don’t like beets. This dish made me a believer. I could not stop eating it.

Wagyu beef filet

My entrée was the house specialty Wagyu beef, raised specifically for Joseph Decuis at the nearby Heritage Farms. If the quality of this meat is any indication, those cows are living the life of Donald Trump. My filet was incredibly flavorful and so tender, I barely needed to chew it. It was served atop perhaps the richest potato puree I’ve ever tasted with a beany succotash of sorts and a splash of red wine Bordelaise sauce. Amazing.

chocolate pecan bourbon bliss

I knew what I wanted for dessert before I even sat down. I spied a crazy delicious-looking pecan-dressed chocolate cake on the counter while I was taking some preliminary photos, and nothing could sway me. Not even the mocha pumpkin crème brulee or caramel pot de crème, which both also sounded terribly decadent. Nope. It was chocolate bourbon pecan cake all day, served with a quenelle of nearly pudding-like vanilla bean whipped cream and a bourbon sauce. This dessert was so good, it should have been illegal.

Fair warning – this is fine dining and these eats aren’t cheap, but the quality and overall experience make Joseph Decuis a splurge everyone who loves food should find a way to experience.

For more information, visit www.josephdecuis.com.

Joseph Decuis on Urbanspoon