Promising a feast for all the senses, modern steakhouse Chophaus opened its doors in the Leeds suburb of Oakwood in 2019. There’s been a lot to contend with since then – it goes without saying – but as summer stretches on and restrictions finally ease, the restaurant is showing signs of an epic comeback.
Earlier this year, the venue opened a brand new heated roof terrace – an attractive addition to the building’s iconic exterior. It’s already packed when we arrive, Thursday drinkers leaning back in their chairs, cocktails bleeding condensation onto the wooden tables. It’s the last day of warm weather before a weekend of rain, and we’re refusing to miss a minute.
We’re here to try Chophaus’s new menu, an ambitious selection of premium steaks and more adventurous dishes that has us expecting greatness from the get-go. It begins, as the best things often do, with a cocktail (or two). The cocktail menu offers a lovely round-up of classics and more original creations, and we reflect that mix with an Old Fashioned and a Spritz Royale (a refreshing blend of strawberry gin, crème de pêche and Moët). I begin to feel a comfortable temperature for the first time in days, and looking up to the canopy of branches arching above us, realise I wouldn’t have to try too hard to convince myself I was on holiday.
The Chophaus menu is divided into ‘snacks’, ‘small plates’ and ‘from the grill’. We forgo the snacks in favour of some seafood-based small plates. The first is a delicate row of sautéed prawns served with garlic chilli butter and tiny chunks of mango. Sticky fingers aside, it’s delicious. The same can be said for the single scallop, which comprises our second small plate. Poised elegantly in a pink shell and surrounded by dried beans (which I quickly find out aren’t edible and hope no one noticed), it’s topped with finely chopped tomatoes, dashi and ‘Nduja oil, which puts a confident edge on the scallop’s creaminess. At £12.50 it’s an expensive bite, but I can’t fault the taste experience so far.
The main event is looming, and I order a glass of Malbec in preparation. Chophaus’s wine list is carefully curated and contains something to suit a wide range of tastes and budgets. They use a 150cl measure to serve it by the glass, which is the kind of quirk I enjoy.
Our mains arrive in the form of – you guessed it – steaks. Mine is a 220g Lomo fillet, my partner’s a 300g Ancho ribeye. Chophaus sources its meats from local suppliers, and each cut is cooked over a charcoal grill, which imbues an extra rich, smoky flavour. They’re both delicious, but the Lomo wins out for its characteristic tenderness. Sitting proud on the plate like a tiny pillow and drizzled with herby, piquant chimicurri sauce, it’s hands down the best steak I’ve had in, well, I can’t remember when.
The peppercorn sauce is great, too – creamy and smoky and arriving in abundance alongside our meat. We order skinny fries and garlic greens to accompany it all, each dish offering the flavours and textures needed to create a perfectly balanced eating experience.
It’s tough, but we find room for dessert – or a shared one at least – plucking up the appetite for a salted plaintain, dulche du leche and banana cheesecake, a really innovative dish that boasts a surprisingly salty kick alongside fresh banana. Somehow, it just works. The table next to us tucks into churros, which look pretty incredible too – hunks of fried dough served alongside a vat of creamy caramel… But I distract myself with the realisation that I am in fact too full to move.
All in all, a fantastic summer evening at Chophaus. From the unique location that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into an enchanted-forest-style getaway to the balance of inventiveness and classic style on its menu – this Oakwood spot is well worth a trip next time you’re celebrating. Or even when you just need an excuse to.