CHOP by Sandy and FINE DINE in Chennai

I love Sandy's on KNK Road, period. When driving around and not in the mood to experiment and I want a safe place that I know will definitely satisfy me, Sandy is one of the 'go to' places for me. During one of the food events at Fresca, I met Sandesh the owner and was fascinated by his knowledge of food and the industry. Having the fortune of meeting many chefs, food entrepreneurs and the likes, courtesy this blog, I am always on the look out for newer ideas and newer cuisines. When I heard that Sandy is coming up with a unique fine dine place in Chennai, I was more than excited.

The second time I met him, the concept of CHOP was unique - conceived as a place for extremely difficulty cooking techniques combined with the best of ingredients across the world. Alaskan Salmon and Waygu beef were supposed to be on the menu. But with the apparent lack of market for fine dining and people to appreciate them, a small place will reduce the overheads and keep the project viable till the concept picks up was supposed to be the plan! I saw someone post a picture about a main course at CHOP and it was exactly what I wanted to eat someday in Chennai. The reviews that came by stating that 'portions were small' and 'no mashed potatoes with the fish' were enough proof that maybe fine dining had finally arrived in Chennai outside of the Prego at Taj! Ok, what is this fine dine that I am talking about? I am talking about a minimum three course meal with palate cleansers. One main course will not fill you, because it is not expected to fill you. There might not be mashed potatoes because it is not designed to be there. And the meal will satisfy you, not making stuffed to the point of throwing up.

So with a heavy appetite and my tongue watering to the extent that any woman passing by thinking I was drooling at her, two of us walked into CHOP. After all this build up, imagine my disappointment when what I saw was nothing more than an extended menu from the Sandy's at KNK. Even as I write this, I can sense the disappointment creeping within me. I asked the waiter if I am in the right CHOP and he said that the menu I am looking for is 'no longer there'. When I probed further, I was told that 'people did not like that menu and portions'. I swallowed hard. Placed an order for crab cakes and a beef burger and stayed silent. Both of us were supremely disappointed.

The crab cakes arrived and it turned out to be simply outstanding. Crab cakes in most places in chennai are made with crab and binders and maybe even potatoes, but here, it was all crab. So much crab that I could actually smell the sea! The consistency suggested that they were frozen, but it did not matter. Three pieces and the disappointment started to slowly fade away! And then came the beef burger - and suddenly I was telling myself that fine dine can go to hell - this beef burger here was the best beef burger I have since I left the soil of USA! I was willing to try dessert knowing Sandy as a dessert King, but there were only three options and I went with the waiter's suggestion - a Campfire Treat. I don't know what all goes into it, but it was outstanding!!!!

Once the wonderful wonderful food settled itself into the stomach, the initial disappointment came back. Fine Dine in a small steakhouse which helps keeps the cost down without having golden walls to experience the food sounded like a good concept to me. Yes, CHOP right now is more of a steak house and a great one at that, but will we ever have the chance to experience fine dine with molecular gastronomy type cooking in Chennai? Only time will tell! I hope to meet the owner some other time and get an insight.

My experience was 4.5/5

That night I had a dream about Scuba Diving and Alaskan Salmon mocking me and another of a Waygu Beef written on a cow and it butting me!!!!

CHOP is located at TTK Road, a little beyond Bengarong (when coming from Park Sheraton), on the opposite side.

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