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Setting the steakhouse standard

The ambiance screams elegance almost to the point where you expect white-gloved waiters to place polished silver domed trays before you, course after course and with a flourish reveal your meal. Actually, that is probably the kind of service that needs to be offered with the fine-dining meal that is offered at the steakhouse known as Churchill’s Chophouse, because menu items like their dry-aged steaks–from a four-ounce filet mignon up to the 22-ounce dry-aged Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks, to a delicately plated Lobstertini in a martini glass beg to be served in that kind of fashion.

Churchill’s Chophouse, the signature restaurant at Our Lucaya Beach&Golf Resort, in Freeport, Grand Bahama, has reopened its doors for the winter season with a revamped menu to tantalize and intrigue the taste buds with new menu additions along with the retention of a couple of menu staples they’re famous for like their dry-aged steaks, that have always been crowd pleasers.

Elevation of their offerings at the fine-dining establishment creates more variety with key items like their grouper dishes(Mushroom Pan Grouper that is a crusted Nassau grouper with tomato lemon gremolata), lobster dishes such as their elegantly served Lobstertini, which is set before you in a martini glass, and they have much to boast of with their Crab Cakes with Tomato and Cucumber Relish and Citrus Remoulade which they say can’t be had better anywhere else.

They’ve also introduced a Roasted Conch Salad to the menu, and increased their cuts of meat and now offer a more diverse range of meat elements. They’ve re-introduced the Porterhouse Steak for a massive 22-ounces of beef flavor, as well as the T-Bone which is also served 22-ounces, as well as a sirloin cut on the bone(a 16-ounce Kansas City Cut), to go along with the four and eight-ounce filet mignon. Their steaks are all dry-aged for a flavor that is absolutely divine. The meat is more tender and the beef taste really shines.

While dry-aged beef is a more costly item, in order to run a top-notch steakhouse, it’s a product that has to be on the menu, because steakhouse clients in the know are after that intense flavor, and the tender, high-quality product that is the dry-aged beef.

Churchill’s Chophouse re-opened its doors on Thursday, November 25, with a menu that is food lover’s delight.

Chef-de-cuisine Neil Rolle, who started out in the restaurant as chef-de-partie when it first opened in 2000 is pleased with the new menu they are presenting to the public. He describes it as stellar.

“From then to now, the quality has gotten better. The quality of meat has gotten better and we have fresher seafood,” said the chef whose food philosophy is fresh is always best.

Chef Rolle presides over a kitchen from which things like Lobster Bisque, Asparagus and Truffle Soup, Barbecue Shrimp, Escargot, Mango Red Snapper Fillet, Churchill’s Corned Grilled Salmon, Colorado Lamb Chops, Briased Beef Short Ribs and their delicious steaks are being rolled out. Not to be forgotten are the fabulous sides to support the main dishes, in classic steak house fashion–dishes like broiled tomatoes, creamed spinach, pan-roasted wild mushrooms, lyonnaise potatoes and hand-cut black pepper fries are some of the perfect accompaniments being offered.

It’s a menu, Chef Rolle describes as diverse, but which he says is compact, allowing him to maintain the high standard of quality that is presented from the starter course through to the dessert which features items like Peach Melba Bread Pudding with Jack Daniels Creme Anglaise and a Chocolate Pistacchio Cake.

It actually consists of two soups, four hot appetizers and three cold appetizers, four salads, three fish, lobster and 10 different cuts of beef along with double cut pork chops and lamb chops and a braised short rib. It’s quite an offering, but still compact where we can maintain quality control,” he said.

The chef says his newest menu is one of the best since the restaurant first opened its doors.

The lobstertini is flavored with fresh key limes, fresh basil, grilled asparagus tips and fresh lobster which is roasted, not poached, so that crucial lobster flavor isn’t left behind in the water. He wants diners to get the full taste of the lobster.”Poaching it tends to leave a lot of the lobster flavor in the liquid and you want all of the lobster flavor to remain in the lobster. Roasted lobster has a more intense lobster flavor, so we roast the lobster, cool it down, then pull it and make the lobstertini, so you get the sweetness from the lobster, the charred flavor from the grilled asparagus in a dish that’s pure excitement, and that’s what you want when you eat,” said Rolle.

The Churchill’s Crabake with Tomato and Cucumber Relish and Citrus Remoulade is burst of flavor. It’s another dish Rolle is proud of and boasts that you won’t find a better crabcake in the country. With other crab cakes on their menu in past years, he said this newest crab cake appetizer is richer than any they’ve previously served.

“We’re now using fresh lump crabmeat and we try to use the[bread]filling[to a minimum]that way we ensure that diners get really intense with the crab flavor. The cucumber and tomato relish is kind of sweet and the citrus remoulade is kind of spicy. It’s a good crab cake by itself and with the relish and remoulade it’s decadent.

The Churchill’s Harvest Salad with Mesclun Blend Greens with cucumbers, nectarines, roasted corn and Cajun-spiced nuts tossed with a peppercorn ranch dressing is a flavor explosion–sweetness from the nectarines, smoky flavor from the roasted corn, spiciness from the peppercorn ranch, and the Cajun spiced nuts and a cooling effect from the cucumber.

For their Mushroom Crusted Nassau Grouper with Tomato Lemon Gremolata, Chef Rolle crushes shittake mushrooms to a powder, crusts the grouper, pan sears it and serves it with a mango reduction which works well with the fish and actually makes the texture of the meat seem lighter. He also serves up his lobster bisque to a darker than normal finish, tops it with a dollop of creme fraiche which allows you to swirl it into the roux to lighten it as much as you want as you eat.

Chef Rolle leads Churchill’s into a new year rolling out a new menu with new influences and he says it’s the ingredients that makes the signature restaurant on the Our Lucaya Beach&Golf Resort property special.

“We use the highest quality meat and seafood we can possibly get. We spare no expense and people should come expecting to be wowed,”said the chef who says his introduction to the culinary arts was a”mistake”by his mother who cooked in small restaurants.

“I actually got into it after high school, it grew on me and then I began to like it,” said the 32-year-old.”And here I am 16 years later,” he said as he sat and surveyed the 132-seat signature restaurant.

For your next outing at Churchill’s Chophouse, I simply had to seek out the chef’s recommendation. He suggests starting with the Lobstertini and crab cake, which he says are must haves, the Harvest Salad and the rib-eye chop for the entree with sides of your choice, which he said are all quality.

“Churchill’s is the hidden gem of The Bahamas. It’s romantic . . . we have a table that overlooks the water, and I can’t imagine anything more romantic than sitting at that table against the glass looking out over the water, eating delicious food and watching the sun go down. The restaurant is elegant, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. It’s casual, but elegant, but no slippers, no shorts–a nice pair of slacks and a nice shirt and have a five-star meal.”

If he had to compare Churchill’s Chophouse with any other steakhouse, Chef Rolle says the restaurant would be right there with top U.S. steakhouses like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Don Shula’s and Morton’s.

And I absolutely had to beg a few recipes from his new menu for you to try at home. He was pleased to part with his Lobstertini and Crab Cake recipes.

Churchill’s Lobstertini

Serves: 4

1 pound cooked lobster meat

?medium onion, thinly sliced

?red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

?yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 small rib of celery, thinly sliced

2 asparagus spears, grilled and thinly sliced

1 cup baby greens, for garnish

Dressing

?cup freshly squeezed lime juice

?cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

To taste Habanero pepper, chopped

Kosher salt, to taste

In a small bowl add ingredients for dressing and mix together with a whisk. Shred lobster meat with a fork and add to dressing along with vegetable and toss lightly. Serve in a chilled martini glasses garnished with baby greens.

Churchill’s Crab Cakes

Serves: 4

1 pound lump crabmeat

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

6 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped

2 ounces butter

1 egg

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

?cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon Habanero Pepper

Kosher salt, to taste

In a small pan melt butter and sauté onion, garlic and chopped thyme. Set aside and let cool. In a bowl add crab meat, mayonnaise, egg and onion, garlic and thyme mixture. Season with salt and habanero pepper then add panko bread crumbs. Place crab cake mixture on a small sheet pan and place in the refrigerator to chill. After chilled, form crab cake to desired size. Cook crab cakes in melted butter over medium high heat in a frying pan until golden brown.

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