ChopHouse on the cheap


No one would characterize
the Boulder ChopHouse
& Tavern as particularly
inexpensive, given such
menu options as a $35
lobster tail entrée. However, the bar-only
menu is much more reasonably priced,
and these offerings present a screaming
deal during the 4 to 6 p.m. happy hour,
when food items are 50 percent off. The
bar here is a comfortably elegant setting,
with the dark woods and conservative
ambience you’d associate
with an old-line

Konstanze, Lisa and I
started with a quartet
of appetizers, including
the bargain-priced
$2.97 Rhode Island-style calamari, fried
up in cornmeal batter. Two sophisticated
dipping sauces — a herbal green chimichurri
and another composed of subtly
sweet and tangy red pepper — added
new complexity to this bar food staple.
The squid tasted fresh, and the assertive
batter wasn’t at all soggy, leading us to
quickly devour this plate.

A $2.47 helping of kettle chips satisfied
our junk-food cravings. While
advertised as being served warm, these
spuds were only slightly above room
temperature. More heat would have
improved both flavor and texture,
although this didn’t hinder our overall
enjoyment. The kitchen again provided
an unexpected dip, a pungent olive tapenade.
Regretfully, this condiment’s flavor
was more sodium than olive, although
salt-craving Lisa seemed to enjoy it.

She didn’t take nearly as much pleasure
in the buffalo shrimp, at $1.48
apiece. These specimens were so voluminous
you’d surmise they came from a
nuclear reactor cooling pond — one
couldn’t fault these for size or even clean
taste. The problem was that the buffalo
wing sauce overwhelmed the shellfish’s
delicacy. Lisa asserted that the shrimp
were “killing me tangy,” although the
sauce would have excelled on poultry.
Next time, we’d go
for the alternative of
having these shrimp
grilled and served as
a cocktail.

Beef was our
common entreé
Konstanze said, “There’s nothing like
dead cow,” a particularly apt sentiment at
a place called the ChopHouse. Given
this moniker, it’s also unsurprising that
each course arrived perfectly medium
rare, as we requested. Konstanze relished
her $7.97 steak frites, a generous serving
of tender beef tempered by assertive blue
cheese flavoring. Equally pleasing were
the skinny fries, the epitome of crispy

Lisa’s $7.98 grilled steak salad was a
lighter choice, although she still received
a steak’s worth of beef. A bed of arugula
and ripe tomatoes provided a less heavy
counterpoint to the meat’s heft. Savory
additions included nifty caramelized
onions and a vinaigrette that successfully
balanced the sour and sweet without
detracting from the other ingredients.

My choice was an $8.98 10-ounce
prime rib sided with cheddar mashed
potatoes. While the jus didn’t leave an
impression, the horseradish sauce effectively
combined creaminess and sinusclearing
heat. At risk of incurring my
mom’s wrath, I’d venture that this prime
rib rivaled hers, as it possessed comparable
deep flavor and velvety tenderness.

A full-priced $5.95 apple bread pudding
with a shovelful of butterscotch ice
cream for an extra dollar provided us
with ample dessert. The textures ranged
from that of moist apple cake to creamy
custard. The butterscotch enhanced this
dish’s vanilla tones, and while the dollop
of whipped cream might be gilding the
lily, we had no problem with this adornment.
Indeed, there was little to take
exception to during this happy hour
meal, a study in extraordinary value.

Clay’s Obscurity Corner

On the slide

Sliders (the diminutive sandwich, not the ’90s sci-fi series that featured
Sallah from the Indiana Jones movies) are a popular local happy hour
item. The ChopHouse serves up a tenderloin version, while Murphy’s offers
a short rib interpretation. Conor O’Neill’s offers a culturally appropriate
corned beef slider. While many attribute the term “slider” to the White
Castle burger chain, others argue for a military origin. It’s said the name
comes from military base sandwiches that were so greasy they
would slide through the diner. Or it might come from burgers
that slid across the grill aboard storm-tossed navy ships.

Boulder ChopHouse & Tavern
921 Walnut St. Boulder