Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Chopps American Bar & Grill: Tater Tot Poutine to Fried Scallops

The best restaurants possess consistency and you know that every visit will satisfy and please. The quality of the food and service will remain the same. If you order the same dish several times, you can be assured that the taste and quality will remain constant. That doesn't mean that the restaurant will remain stagnant or that the menu won't change. It means that even when new dishes are added, you can be assured that they too will be high quality and delicious.

Chopps American Bar & Grill, located at the Burlington Marriott, is one such consistent restaurant, which always delivers on each and every visit I have ever made. Check out my prior review of this restaurant from last September for my thoughts after making multiple visits to the restaurant. In addition, Chopps was included on my list of My Top Five Burlington Restaurants, my 2015 Favorite Hotel Restaurant, and my Top 50 Restaurants of 2015. It is a restaurant which I highly recommend and on my most recent visit, a media invite to check out their new Spring Menu, it remained consistently strong.

Executive Chef Jeff Williams has introduced a number of new Spring dishes, using fresh local ingredients such as produce from Verrill Farm in Concord and steaks from River Rock Farm in Broomfield. You will still find some old favorites still on the menu too. For more basic info about Chopps, please check my prior review and here I'll just discuss the dishes I sampled on my most recent visit.

The Gatsby's Girl ($9) cocktail is made with Absolut Citron, Cointreau, Pomegranate, Sparkling Wine. My dining companion loved this drink and it was well balanced, not too sweet, and had a nice fruity taste.

I went with the Whiskey Pig Rye Manhattan, which was as good this time as always. With a good selection of Bourbons & Ryes, you can choose one of your favorites for a Manhattan.

We began with a few Appetizers, including the Lamb Lollichopps ($17) which are made with a Spring sofrito and aged sherry vinaigrette. The lamb chops were meaty and tender, with a nice sear and a savory sauce. The sofrito was compelling, with an excellent melange of flavors which went well atop the lamb. A great way to begin the meal.

Tater Tot Poutine! The Montreal Tots ($12) are Chopp's variation of Poutine, using their tater tots as a base for duck confit & gravy, melting curds and spring green garlic. I've always enjoyed their large tater tots and they work well as the foundation for this dish. And the duck confit and gravy were superb, with lots of tender meat and a savory gravy which will please your palate. My only critique is that I would have personally preferred actual firm curds rather than the melted cheese. The firm curds would have added an additional textural element to the dish. Plus, I think such curds are more a defining element of poutine & its variations.

One of my Favorite Restaurant Dishes of 2015 was the Fried Scallops & Shrimp at Chopps. I had to order them again, to see if they still were as compelling, and I wasn't disappointed in the least. The scallops are especially tasty, with a clean, light and crunchy coating and tender, sweet scallops. The shrimp are also delicious, with a similar fried coating. This dish earns my highest recommendation and I was glad to see it remains on their menu.

Moving onto a couple Small Plates, we chose the Rice Noodles ($15), made with soy ginger, bok choy, baby carrot, peanut, mushroom, and hen egg. A delightful blend of flavors and textures, from the firm bite of the noodles to the crunch of the carrots. The savory notes, including the salty soy, were prominent and there was a subtle spicy heat that slowly built up in my mouth. Plenty of umami notes and I would have loved a chilled glass of Sake with this dish.

The Lobster Nero Fettucini ($16/$24), made with shaved garlic, pear tomato serrano, and basil, is savory and earthy, with sweetness from the lobster and nice acidity from the tomatoes. A nicely balanced dish, and the squid ink pasta was cooked just right and complemented the rest of the dish. My companion who hadn't tasted squid ink pasta before enjoyed this dish very much too.

We split one of the new Spring Entrees, the Scallops ($35), which are served with French lentil, bell pepper, Jamón ibérico, and Meyer lemon. Bright fresh flavors, sweet & perfectly seared scallops, and some salty elements from the ham, contributed to making this a winning dish.

Accompanying the Scallops, we also tried the Crab Cake ($8) addition. It has lots of sweet crab, an excellent crunchy, fried coating and very little filler.

Service was excellent, being attentive without being obtrusive. The new Spring dishes are excellent additions to the menu and Chef Williams continues to impress. Chopps continues to receive my hearty recommendation and certainly is one of the best restaurants in Burlington, which has become a suburban restaurant mecca.

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