Thursday, January 29, 2009

Murphy's Chophouse

Last night we had a wonderful dinner out, a rare treat. We went to Murphy's Chophouse in Murphy, NC for the first time. Being a Wednesday night we had no problem getting in without a reservation, they we probably only a third full at most. I think there were maybe eight other tables with patrons at 6:30pm. Naturally the outdoor patio was vacant with below freezing temperatures.

The hostess, who turned out to be our waitress also, opened the door for us on our arrival, always a good sign. She also smartly seated us in a back corner but at the same time did not ostracize us. This is important when you are toting a 2.5 year old who will be up well past her bed time and who hasn't eaten since lunch. Well, we did let Rose have some cake before we left in an attempt to tide her over. We learned later that our waitress, Tara, has a four year old girl, so she probably had some insight. Further proof, Tara brought Rose four pages from a coloring book and a big box of crayons.

This is a snazzy restaurant, more typical for a city like Atlanta or a suburb, than this rural area. Dim lights, big candle on the table, linen tablecloths and napkins, extensive wine list (new law for this area). However, this is the mountains after all. I dressed up by wearing a sport shirt with slacks but of course the old people around me were in their jogging suits and sweats. I know someone from Florida (surprise, surprise) who had eaten here before and complained about the high prices. Fancy burgers were about $9, steaks about $22. Again not far off the mark from the Atlanta area, and a lot less than the finer restaurants there.

While Rose was ordered a cheeseburger before we even looked at the menu to stave off a temper tantrum, Dinah and I had hard time trying to choose what tastiness to eat. There was so much that looked so good. We opted for a nightly special for the starter, crab and trout stuffed mushrooms with melted cheese with a light mustard sauce with a hint of horseradish. Two for each of us.

Dinah settled on the Ahi Tuna and opted to substitute her salad with soup. A tough choice because we both like a good Caesar salad and Dinah was told their dressing was homemade. Anchovies did not come on the salad but were available for a dollar extra. (Mmmmm, I love anchovies). She debated between French onion soup and the she-crab bisque but went with the bisque on Tara's strong recommendation.

I went with the blackened rib eye with blue cheese on top. Not my usual choice for a rib eye. I believe rib eyes are the best of all pieces of meat and are best served medium-rare, unadorned. But I was feeling adventurous. My debate was between the she-crab soup or the Caesar salad. Easy solution. I ordered the Caesar, with anchovies and added a cup of the she-crab bisque.

The soup came first. Maybe not the best she-crab soup we have ever had but right up there. The bisque was quite meaty, I think there were small scallops in there also. My first bite I felt was a little too heavy on roasted red pepper but it mellowed after that. I think we both would have licked the bowl clean if we could.

My salad came after the soup. It was not too big, maybe too handfuls and generously topped with wide anchovies. The best Caesar I ever had was at Rosebud's in Chicago. This one could have been up there if they had laid shaved the cheese on top of the salad. Nonetheless it was gone in a flash.

Fresh baked sea salt focaccia and herbed olive oil for dipping came after the salad. Rather unusual timing I thought but I have to give the restaurant credit, all the food was paced perfectly. Delivery was not too soon or late allowing for a comfortable meal. And I thought the mid meal delivery of the bread was actually genius. This way we didn't gorge per usual, overeating before the rest of our meal came out.

Dinah raved about her tuna. It was seared on the outside otherwise raw, as it should be, in 3/8 inch thick slices except for two near inch think wedges standing up as square triangles. It was served with an orange teriyaki sauce. I prefer my tuna much thinner, maybe 1/8 inch thick, but Dinah declared it perfect. Dinah's side was a mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and butter, like a sweet potato pie filling. Nothing overwhelming special about Murpy's versus another restaurant's but Rose couldn't get enough if it. Dinah had few bites to herself.

Both our dishes came with a potato and carrot medley, not quite boiled, not quite sauteed. Very tasty but some of my potatoes were not cooked through. I had steak fries for my other side. They were good, the wide kind that I like, but they were the same as anyone else's. My steak was cooked perfectly. It was topped with blue cheese crumbles and some pickled ginger and rosemary for garnish. I tossed the rosemary but ate the ginger. I don't know why. The steak was bedded in a small pool of a black pepper sauce not unlike the sauce I would get with my steak au poire at Courtyard Cafe (sadly gone I think) in Bainbridge. In the end I continue to believe that a filet or sirloin would be a better choice for this style of dish, but I still wolfed it down eagerly.

It has been a long time since we have been able to enjoy a fine night of dining. Amazingly the bill totaled less than our expection by at least $20. Bonus!


Brook said...

My favorite cut of steak is is ribeye too-medium rare. Salt and pepper only my friend, though I may have to try bacon butter one day. Check out the baconista blog on mine-you will die! In a good way. I had the best steaks when I worked on the dude ranch in AZ. Did you know it is possible to actually get tired of steak? I know hard to believe, but we had it nearly every day and I didn't want steak for months after I left there.

Huff Daddy said...

Oh yeah. I have added bacon salt and baconaisse to my wish list after you steered me in that direction. Bacon butter sounds good too. By the way, I have that Fat cookbook by Jennifer McLagan that Baconista shows on her blog sitting right next to me. I pre-ordered it from Amazon months and months ago

Brook said...

Dog! Is it good? Oh and I just saw a couple of days ago a billboard for a Chophouse-is it a chain?

Huff Daddy said...

There is a Chophouse chain, but this one is local to Murphy. Owned by the same chef who run a resort restaurant in Hiawassee. Both good getaways if you ever need one.