Chop Bloc - The best steak and cocktails in Chelmsford
As Winter started to draw in I found myself heading to Chop Bloc in Chelmsford. If there’s anything guaranteed to cheer me up on a cold, brisk night, it’s a belly full of steak and cocktails.
Chop Bloc are celebrating two years of being open and were amongst the initial throng of new restaurants that came to the area following the award of city status.
Run by brothers Dave and Steve, Chop Bloc has quickly established a reputation for being the best steak restaurant in town, and with good reason, too.
Canapes, Steak and cocktails
I’ve been a long-term fan of Chop Bloc since they opened and they have taken the mantle of “go-to restaurant” for me from Miller and Carter who have had my custom for well over a decade.
Steve and Dave, who founded Chop Bloc following a career in the meat business were keen to show us some of the methods we use to prepare the best steaks in town.
They have a philosophy towards what is served at Chop Bloc and the brothers explained how they approach the restaurant business in the old fashioned way, producing everything inhouse.
Having worked in the beef industry for many years before starting the restaurant, it’s apparent to all that Dave and Steve have a passion for what they do, and by using their connections within the beef industry they buy the best possible beef from people that their family have worked with for decades.
What really sets the restaurant apart is how they mature and butcher all the beef in house using specialist dry ageing cabinets which reflect the traditional approach to maturing beef whilst ensuring the quality. You can even see this process as you enter the restaurant, with the cabinets located just to the left of the main foyer.
The dry ageing process ensures that steaks are freshly cut before being cooked, rather than being cut and vacuum-packed like most other places. It also means that burgers can be ordered cooked medium as the meat is minced in-house.
To show just how the meat is prepared on site, we were treated to Head Chef Antonio showing us how he cuts up various joints of meat.
Antonio joined Chop Bloc for pre-opening in September 2014. Previously he worked for Drake and Morgan in London and before that was the head chef at Gaucho Canary Wharf for 8 years.
He trained under Bruno Loubert and has had a long career working in great restaurants across London. To say that he is a great addition to Chop Bloc is really an understatement, and it’s obvious when talking to him that he has bought wholly into the philosophy offered at the restaurant, and been rewarded with a certain amount of autonomy by Dave and Steve.
The skill and speed at which Antonio worked astonished me, and it was fascinating to see the process of starting with a massive slab of meat and seeing it all the way through to being served on the table.
It’s not just the superb quality of meat that makes Chop Bloc excel. It’s their knowledge and application which really boosts the flavour.
Rump steak or fillet steak?
To give you an example, Chop Bloc are able to serve up a piece of rump steak - which many consider to be tough, chewy and of poor quality - and yet you wouldn’t be surprised if it was fillet steak.
I asked Dave how they managed to achieve such superb rump steak. His detailed answer:
We take a D-Cut rump then split it into a rump heart and cap. The cap is roasted whole and sliced to serve as a picanha as you would get in Brazil. The rump heart is then split into the A & B muscle with all silver skin and sinew taken away.
This gives you a really flavorful steak that can be juicy and tender.
The fillet is the laziest muscle in the anaimal where as the rump is hard at work from walking around munching on grass.
The rump has a coarser muscle grain than filler but by maturing it properly as a whole primal for the correct length 28-35 days after being hung for 10-12 days as a carcass it can be just as tender but with more flavor.
See what I mean about them being passionate experts in their field?
Chelmsford business networking
Chop Bloc aren’t just available for meals out, though. They also have Elwell Taylor host their monthly Chelmsford business networking event in Bloc bar on the 3rd Friday of each month at 1pm.
It’s usually attended by professionals and directors from a host of the city’s commercial, financial and property companies and is just one of the ways that the restaurant is establishing a strong link with the community.
There’s not much to dislike about Chop Bloc. It’s not a chain restaurant despite being mistaken for one often, though such is the popularity of their menu that the brothers are often asked when they will be expanding.
From producing all their burgers in-house using very specialist mincing equipment giving the tastiest, juiciest burgers possible, they don’t use catering butchers and have cut out the middle man.
It all complements an approach which uses real skill and knowledge in the kitchen and ensures the high quality of their beef and enables them to serve it at a very reasonable price compared to other establishments based in London and the surrounding areas.
So if you want a true steak restaurant rather than just putting up with a restaurant that serves steak, Chop Bloc should be top of your list.
You can read the reviews by others there that night as follows: