Restaurant Review: Chops Grille on Jewel of the Seas

In:
03Oct2013

Chops Grille is an iconic Royal Caribbean specialty restaurant and is consistantly a restaurant Royal Caribbean fans flock to on every cruise they take.

So when our cruise on Jewel of the Seas came around and we had just one night to check out a specialty restaurant, everyone in our group picked Chops Grille and so we gave it a try (again).

Atmosphere

On Jewel of the Seas, Chops Grille is located on deck 6 near the Schooner Bar.  Walking in, you will find a restaurant that looks like the Chops Grille on other Royal Caribbean ships.  Dark woods complimented by lighter brown and beige colors in a large room of tables of various sizes.  Because of the restaurant's required dress code, you will find the restaurant with a more upscale look than other places on the ship.

Something we noticed immediately as we walked in was the noise.  Not from the restaurant, but from outside at the Schooner Bar.  Our reservation was at 8:30pm (the latest reservation possible) and the Schooner Bar was playing their music quite loudly.  So loud that it came right into the restaurant and since Chops Grille keeps its doors open when in operation, it was easy to hear the music inside the restaurant.  We asked for a table much further inside the restaurant and there was less noise but you could still hear the bass as well as cheers from the bar. 

I mentioned the noise factor to our waiter, who seemed to agree with me but kind of shrugged it off as just something that they can do about it.  She was sympathetic about it but mentioned that's just how it is.

Unlike our experience at Chops Grille on Freedom of the Seas, the entire restaurant was in one large room.  One wall is made up of glass that overlooks the ocean, but because it's night, the glare of the lights inside the restaurants makes seeing outside virtually impossible.  Perhaps someone sitting at the window might be able to see something if they peered against the glass directly but I can't comment on that.

Eats

The menu at Chops Grille is pretty simple and I think that's part of why it's so consistantly good.  Bread is served to you upon being seated with two spreads.  Starting with the appetizers, there's a lot to choose from.  Our group of 4 chose the Asian-Inspired Spicy Tuna, Not So Traditional Caesar Salar, Oyster Duet and Cheese N' Onion Soup. 

Three of us got the Spicy Tuna, which was more of a tartare than say thin slices of tuna.  From a consistancy basis, some might not love it but I found it very tasty (I have yet to find a tuna appetizer I have not loved).  The wasabi and chips that accompany the tuna were great compliments and as someone who loves sushi, this was right up my alley.

Next I had the Cheese N' Onion soup, which is essentially french onion soup.  I commented to my tablemates was certainly not something out of a can and or me, the first sign of a good soup is determining that it was infact made from scratch and this one certainly fit the bill.  I thought it was good at the time but I didn't get a real appreciation for it until later in the cruise when they had French Onion Soup on the menu in the main dining room and I could see (and taste) the difference.  

The oyster duet was also quite tasty and a nice choice for seafood fans.  It's also not a typical steakhouse appetizer, which was nice to see as a choice.  The oysters tasted fresh and since there were no side effects health wise later on, we deemed it a good appetizer as well.

Lastly, the Caesar salad is, well, massive and came across as good.  My wife had the Caesar salad at dinner every night in the main dining room and commented this Casear salad from Chops was definitely better.

Now was time for entrees and not surprisingly, we all opted for steaks.  If you recall from my Freedom of the Seas Chops Grille experience, the waitress talked me out of getting the New York Strip steak because of complaints from other guests. So this time I once again tried to order the New York Strip and succeeded.  I found the strip steak to be quite good, albeit not as flavorful as say the porterhouse.  That being said, I found the strip steak to be a much more manageable cut of meat and part of my reasoning for ordering the strip instead of the porterhouse was to not eat so much steak that I could not enjoy the sides.  Overall I liked the strip steak and found very little fat on it.

Our table ordered two filet mignon steaks, which were both cooked to perfect and as tender as steak gets.   The girls loved it and for anyone unsure of what to order at Chops, I'd recommend the filet because it's consistantly the best cut available and the safest bet.  I should mention my wife ordered her steak with bleu cheese on top, which is not standard.

The porterhouse was as big as expected and a really juicy cut of meat.  The porterhouse offers arguably the best flavor but does have a fair amount of fat to cut around.  Having had the porterhouse on Freedom, I was okay not having it this time but next time I might just order the porterhouse and only eat what I feel like (although I have yet to actually leave food on my plate in Chops Grille).

From our last trip to Chops Grille, we knew about how great the sides are here and so we made sure leave plenty of room for them.  We ordered the mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes with prioscutto and parmesan and the broccolini.  I really think the side dishes are the hidden gem of Chops Grille so leave plenty of room for them.  The roasted potatoes were probably the best of the sides, with the melted parmesan cheese on top mixing with the soft potatoes.  

As good as the entrees were, the desserts at Chops are also really good.  All over the restaurant we saw tables ordering the crème brûlée, which was noticable because the dish came out of the kitchen on fire.  From my last visit I remember the red velvet cake so I had to get that.  

The crème brûlée was good, but the red velvet cake was just as good as I remember.  Frankly, the cake part is just fine but it's the icing that is amazing.  I'm sure it's the pure sugar combined with some sort of animal fat that makes it so tasty, but if I ever need a food to eat before the apocolypse, this is a strong contender.

Overall

What I like about Chops Grille is the consistancy and on Jewel of the Seas, it was another solid meal.  The price per person is $30 is a bit pricey but if you need one night out for dinner, then it's hard to go wrong at Chops Grille.  And given the amount of food you get for the money, it's still a good value.

In terms of the food offered it's good steakhouse food and if you like a good steak, then this is the place to eat onboard.  Given the uninspiring steaks offered in the main dining room, there isn't much choice really for anyone looking for a good steak dinner.  The ambiance, despite the noise factor, also make it one of the better romantic places on Jewel of the Seas.

In short, Chops Grille is a great choice for a specialty restaurant meal on Jewel of the Seas, despite the price and noise outside the restaurant.  The food holds up and even across Royal Caribbean's fleet, Chops Grille is too consistant to worry about having an off night.