Where to Boston Chops, the new Downtown Crossing branch of the swank South End steakhouse, from co-owners Brian Piccini and chef Chris Coombs.
What for Steaks that have been featured on the cover of Food & Wine magazine. Endless frites doled out from a large copper bowl. A special table for Instagrammers, with extra-good lighting. More marble per square foot than at most other Boston restaurants.
The scene You know you’re in the right place when you arrive at the red door with the silver cow’s head knocker. Boston Chops is located inside a former bank (which also used to be Mantra), and there’s still an impressive vault door located downstairs. The space looks clubby and grand: vaulted ceilings, floor-to-ceiling marble walls, leather banquettes, and dark wood. At the entrance are floral arrangements as big as trees, and at the top of the stairs is a small forest of street lamps. At the bar, customers indulge in martini service and devour popovers with butter. The Instagram table is occupied by a group of beefy men taking pictures of big steaks.
What you’re eating If you’ve been to Boston Chops, the menu will look familiar. Coombs and executive chef Adrienne Wright serve up seafood plateaux, steakhouse-appropriate salads, and standard and less-standard hot appetizers: onion soup, crab cakes; chicken-fried sweetbreads, grilled herb-marinated heart. Steak is the main event, from an 8-ounce skirt steak with frites to a 20-ounce prime chateaubriand, but there are also assorted chops, fish and chicken dishes, and pasta. Pile on sides such as poutine-style twice-baked potatoes, pork belly mac and cheese, and bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts. Almost every table seems to have a tower of onion rings. Desserts include sticky toffee pudding and pineapple gelee cheesecake. Lunch is more casual, with plenty of salads and sandwiches.
Care for a drink? There are house cocktails with evocative names — Holiday in Brittany (vodka, strawberry, and Lillet), Dunhill (gin, sherry, and vermouth) — as well as classics such as Manhattans and Negronis. The beer list is local, and the wine list draws from Boston Chops’ well-stocked cellars. Longtime local sommelier Nick Daddona is beverage director for the steakhouses, as well as sister restaurants dbar and Deuxave.
Overheard Steak-temperature debate, onion-ring oohing, decor ahhing. “So blue basically means still mooing,” explains one bargoer to another. “We need to get the onion rings, but I also want frites,” bemoans a conflicted customer. “Would you like a tour downstairs?” staffers offer. “I thought the Instagram table would be fancier,” says a woman walking past. Someone tastes the frites and smiles: “These are like McDonald’s, but so much better!”
52 Temple Place, Downtown Crossing, Boston, 617-982-7130, email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.