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Published: Thursday, 12/4/2008

Restaurant review: Maumee Chop House *****

Restaurants that tempt customers with elegant surroundings and unusually good food have a way of seducing us out of all reason and budgets.

Such is the siren song of the Maumee Chop House, which lures diners to its upscale haunts with memorable appetizers and soups, imaginatively prepared fish, salads, and a larder of irresistible prime steaks, pork chops, veal, and roasted lamb.

In these desperate economic times, the prices may strike some as more than common sense would allow. But budget-minded diners themselves must decide whether they re getting a fair shake for their money.

For example, the 18-ounce prime New York strip steak au poivre, draped in Courvoisier cream sauce and dripping with tenderness, tips the scales at $39. Is it worth it? Or would you feel better ordering the more modest $19 chicken Georgia with shallots, mushrooms, and mozzarella, or the $20 double-cut bone-in pork chop with rosemary and port wine fig sauce?

Whatever the choice, in these posh, wood-paneled surroundings it s fairly easy to toss the usual arguments out the window and splurge: yes to the steak, yes to the lobster and king crab legs, and yes indeed to a bottle of brawny red, pulled from one of the many wine racks that give the restaurant added splendor.

Since our last foray at the Chop House five years ago, little seems to have changed. There s still the masculine d cor, which gives the restaurant the look of a posh country club men s grill, complete with a long bar and lounge adjacent to the dining and banquet rooms. And the service remains top-notch, both attentive and knowledgeable.

The restaurant s bill of fare favors classic over trendy, starting with the appetizers and sides, which range in price from $3.50 to $13. Among the de rigeur openers are creamy baked brie, oysters Rockefeller, escargot, smoked salmon, and not-so-crunchy crab cakes, while the sides spinach and Caesar salads, potatoes au gratin, and the like also include a welcome surprise: a $7 order of macaroni and cheese, with crab meat mixed in among the five cheeses.

The thick prime strip steak was tender and juicy as mentioned, as was one of the Chop House s staples, filet oscar ($40), an eight-ounce filet mignon with asparagus, lump crab, and hollandaise sauce. Sides included a house salad with mixed greens, cranberries, and toasted almonds; spinach salad with homemade hot bacon dressing, and well-crusted potatoes au gratin.

Our seafood choices were just as good: blackened swordfish with olive mascarpone cheese ($23) and a perfectly delectable chilean sea bass ($26) swimming in a sea of wine broth, fennel, leeks, garlic, onions, spinach, and artichoke hearts. Just describing it makes my heart go flippity-flop.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com



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