By Laura J. Cummings
Just like the boutique hotel it’s housed in, the Olde Florida Chop House offers something unique and elegant, elevating the typical steakhouse experience into something more excellent. It’s not just the food, exceptional as it is, that makes Olde Florida Chop House stand out; it is the commitment to quality that’s only possible with a petite operation.
The new, dinner-only restaurant at the Trianon Bonita Bay carries with it the same elegant ambiance. Now you don’t have to be staying in the boutique hotel to enjoy its lovely lake view, offered by floor-to-ceiling windows and a handful of tables on the small, garden patio.
“The ambience is divine!” gushe d one patio diner on the night we visited.
Inside the steakhouse, the vibe is classy but not stuffy. The two screens above the bar, visible from the entire dining room, do not play sports. Instead they are used to enhance relaxation, scrolling vivid images of oceanic life.
Suits are not required, and there are no white linens — instead, warm, rich woods and a clean, nautical color scheme of navy and white. Despite the regional rarity of quality culinary staff, Chop House has managed to acquire and train up an excellent team, led by Chief Operating Officer Darren Robertshaw and Executive Chef David O’Donnell. Robertshaw also operates both the Trianon and its more casual, open-air eatery, Lakehouse Bar & Grill.
O’Donnell represents homegrown talent, starting as a line cook at Roy’s Restaurant in the Promenade 18 years ago, then honing his culinary skills at Johnson & Wales University before returning to Southwest Florida, where he has served as executive chef of several fine restaurants, most recently Chops City Grill in Naples. His culinary prowess now directs the menu at Olde Florida Chop House, resulting in creative presentations and outstanding flavors.
“We are a petite, little chop house,” he says of his newest venture. “We serve global cuisine, but we like to highlight our local produce and seafood.”
Locally sourced produce stars in the wow-worthy House Vase Salad showcasing hydroponically grown, baby artisan lettuce wrapped in an almond nougat “vase” — a lovely bouquet of fresh flavors. Local seafood makes its appearance on the menu whenever possible, including the stone crab appetizer, fresh-caught from the Everglades and served with spicy mustard.
“They’re caught right out of the Isles of Capri — they were swimming yesterday,” said the chef as we prepared to indulge.
Steaks are wet- and dry-aged in-house for outstanding texture and flavor. The steakhouse menu includes Australian Wagyu beef, which is ultra-rich, juicy and tender. Optional sauces add dimension and include cherry demi glace, cognac peppercorn and lemon caper butter. Sides, ordered separately, are worth the tasty addition. Try the Crispy Brussels, House-cut Parmesan Truffle Fries or the Crab and Lobster Mac and Cheese featuring the distinctive flavor of Gruyere.
All of the dishes we sampled, from starters to desserts, were artfully crafted as well as delicious. A few have impressive table-side presentations, including the restaurant’s signature “smoked” cocktails, the Lobster Bisque with tarragon cream poured over a meaty claw and goat cheese, and the Baked Alaska dessert with its flaming caramel rum sauce.
Olde Florida Chop House is open Monday through Saturday from 4:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and closed on Sundays. The restaurant hosts happy hour and offers a prix-fixe, three-course menu from 4:45-5:45 p.m. Reservations are recommended by calling the restaurant or booking online.
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What is a steakhouse without great wines and cocktails? The creativity of the Olde Florida Chop House beverage team shines with the presentation of these attention-grabbing, smoke-infused nightly specials. The Smoked Manhattan elevates this classic bourbon-and-vermouth drink by smoking it over hickory (or other wood) chips. It’s presented in a glass dome to release a “campfire” aroma with the smoky plume.
If you’re looking for an impressive starter, this is it. Why choose shrimp cocktail, oysters on the half-shell or stone crab alone when you can get them all plus Alaskan King Crab, Maine Lobster tail and a tasty seafood cocktail served over tomato confit with avocado puree and citrus vinaigrette? Blue point oysters gain sweetness from a passion fruit mignonette and candied kumquats, thematically topped with “sea foam.”
Foie Gras, sourced from premium duck product purveyor Hudson Valley (NY), is presented two ways with port wine and black currant chutney, along with sauterne wine gelée. This classic French appetizer is a taste of indulgence, foreshadowing the fine meal to follow.
New York Strip & South African Lobster Tail
You’ll always find some form of Surf ‘’n’ Turf featured as a nightly special. On the evening we visited, a six-ounce Australian Wagyu New York strip came paired with South African lobster — “the best you can find in the world,” according to General Manager Addison Hyre — a cold-water lobster that boasts a brilliant red color and sweet, succulent meat. Cooked heirloom cherry tomatoes only enhance this savory entrée.
Tomahawk Pork Chop
Olde Florida Chop House offers a monster, 32-ounce Tomahawk Steak as well as a massive 14-ounce Tomahawk Pork Chop. Kurobuta pork, a favorite among chefs, is basically the “Wagyu” of the pork world, known for its tender juiciness and flavor. Glazed with orange-marmalade sauce and served with sweet cherry peppers, this is one savory dish!
Chocolate Mousse Cake
Please save room for dessert! All are made in house and offer unique flavors and textures to finish on a sweet note. The Flourless Chocolate Mousse Cake is gluten free but tastes incredibly indulgent. At the center of the cake is a sweet raspberry gelée surrounded by creamy mousse, all glazed with chocolate sauce. It’s finished with an eye-catching, edible-gold flag.
Olde Florida Chop House at Trianon Bonita Bay
3401 Bay Commons Drive, Bonita Springs