How often do you get to try a quality steak dinner?
As a new cruiser, I knew I had to try one of Royal Caribbean‘s most popular specialty restaurants.
Long regarded as one of the best specialty dining experiences, this venue is Chops Grille.
Chops Grille is a specialty restaurant, meaning there is an additional cost involved. We purchased a dinner for myself and my girlfriend and paid $55.99 per person, $111.98 in total.
I went ahead and compared this price to quality steakhouses near me and saw that this total is equal to (or even slightly less than) typical steakhouses on land.
Chops Grille is a quality steak house that is featured on all Royal Caribbean ships. This speaks to its fame and popularity, so I knew I had to try it out and see if the extra cost was worth it.
We reserved Chops Grille for the second night of our cruise. On Freedom of the Seas, it was located on deck 1, right next to the entrance to the Windjammer.
When we entered, I gave the staff our room number, and we were quickly seated by polite waitstaff.
The dining room was a rectangular shape, facing a wide glass wall that looked out onto the ocean.
We were seated near the front of the entrance and directly next to another couple's table, only divided by a short wooden wall. My seat faced the glass window to the ocean.
The look of the steakhouse was very classy: dark browns, crisp white linens, and low, golden lighting.
When the night began, there was still enough sun for us to look at the ocean and enjoy the wide, clear view.
However, as the sun set, it became very dark inside the steakhouse.
I also felt that the restaurant was a little crowded for the number of patrons inside.
Not only were we seated directly next to a couple—to the point where we could hear each other‘s conversations—but there was also a large party of about 15 to the left of us.
It was easy to hear everything going on in the restaurant, especially when people got too noisy or drunk.
Staff also started singing “Happy Birthday” for diners multiple times throughout the night, inviting the whole venue to join in. This was a fun interlude to our dinner, but it happened about three times, interrupting our conversation each time!
However, the room’s crowded atmosphere also speaks to the restaurant's popularity.
It seems that many people enjoy the specialty venue as a way to celebrate their birthdays or other special occasions.
Despite the noise and volume, our waiter was very pleasant and put us right at ease, helping us to focus on the food and our personal experience.
Chops Grille Menu
Before explaining the menu, our waiter asked if we were celebrating any special occasions, had any allergies, or any shows that we would need to leave for at a certain time.
Then he explained that the menu was included in our purchase, starting with appetizers, continuing to soups and salads, and including sides, as well as an entrée and dessert.
The waiter started us off by bringing a starter of bread and butter. When the bread arrived, we were surprised by the unique shapes and the warmth on the inside.
Our waiter also offered us several drink options, and we decided to try some wine. We chose a simple Moscato that had a lovely fruity flavor.
For our appetizers, I chose the colossal shrimp cocktail, which came with a few pieces of shrimp on ice and a horse radish cocktail sauce that was a sweet and spicy mix.
I enjoyed the shrimp cocktail, but I much preferred my girlfriend’s order: a grilled pepper black bacon with a sweet and spicy glaze. The tender, fatty strip of meat was delicious, and I kept tasting it despite the fact that it was her order.
Later, I discovered that this bacon slice is arguably the most popular Chops Grille appetizer, and I can see why. My only regret from this evening is not ordering a serving for myself.
For the soup and salad portion, we each chose a salad.
My girlfriend ate a simple Caesar salad, and I ordered the crispy goat cheese salad.
The crispy goat cheese salad came with green apples, candied walnuts, cranberries, and balsamic dressing. The goat cheese was served on top in a fried ball that I had to split open.
It was creamy and delicious, with a tang from the balsamic dressing and sour green apples.
Next, it was time to order our sides. Our waiter let us know that we could order as many as we wanted, but my girlfriend and I limited ourselves to three as we didn’t want to get too full before the entrée.
We chose the truffled french fries, the Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, and grilled jumbo asparagus.
The sides came in small metal bowls, so in hindsight, we could’ve ordered more.
We loved the creamy mashed potatoes and the fresh grilled asparagus.
However, I found the salty, oniony truffle flavor of the french fries to be a little bit off-putting. I chalked this up to my own inexperience with truffles, not any issue in the actual dish.
For the main course, we each ordered the 9-ounce filet.
On the menu, this dish is listed as “9 ounces of our most tender cut of lean Midwestern beef.”
The filet came immediately with our sides and was served with a garnish of garlic and rosemary.
While I usually order my steaks medium-rare, at Chops Grille, I ordered mine medium. For someone who likes their steaks tender but not bloody, this was the perfect choice.
I found that it was incredibly tender, soft, and tasty, with a marinated salty flavor throughout.
Despite our concern about our fleeting appetites, my girlfriend and I managed to finish all of our steak serving.
We went ahead and ordered our dessert to-go, hoping to finish later when we were feeling more hungry.
My girlfriend ordered the red velvet cake, and I ordered the raspberry cheesecake.
Later, when I ate the raspberry cheesecake, I loved the creamy taste and the sweet tang of the raspberry. A dollop of whipped cream on top completed the dish.
While I would’ve preferred a more quiet and spacious atmosphere, the food was impeccably delicious. The appetizers, tender steak fillets, and sweet desserts made the extra price worth it.
And on a visit back to Chops Grille, I would know exactly what to order to have the best possible dining experience.
Considering the average price and the fact that this was on a beautiful cruise ship, I would definitely visit this restaurant again.