This place brings a new level to eating in the Chelmsford area – learn about the meats you are eating and the love that’s gone into your meal before enjoying the fantastic flavours. Chop Bloc combines first class steak with a number of classic British and American dishes, so there’s something for everyone across the menu. If these guys are so on the ball shortly after opening – I’m excited to see what the future holds for them!
In a word
Steak house meets bistro
Chop Bloc is great for date nights, family dinners or group parties, with several floors to chose from you can pick a candlelit corner, a big feast table or a high table in the Bloc Bar.
Chop Bloc is great quality but it is no way pretentious. The atmosphere is quite casual, all of the spaces are big and open. The lighting varies depending on which part you’re in but it’s either bright and modern or a little more dim and relaxing (in the bar). We went on a fairly quiet night, but I imagine there would be a good buzz on the more popular days of the week.
There’s a fantastic variety at Chop Bloc, from the classic steaks and lobster, through to burgers, fresh fish dishes and salads. There really should be something for everyone on this menu.
Chop Bloc uses British beef from farms in Hereford, which adhere to strict animal welfare standards. They really care about the animals, because they best animals make the best meat. All of the steaks are dry hung and sent to the site as primals – where they are continued to be matured in-house, you can see one of their huge fridges as you walk in the door. All of the meat is matured for a minimum of 28 days for maximum flavour. Each steak is sliced straight from the huge primals when they are ordered, to try and preserve the flavour and tenderness for as long as possible.
Panko Pork Belly (£6) – I am a big, big fan of pork belly but I’ve never had it quite like this. Cut into fairly thin strips and with a minimal amount of fat, this dish is a delight of textures as the panko breadcrumbs encase the soft meat within. It’s served up with a sweet and sticky dip, made mainly from ketjap manis (an Indonesian sweet soy sauce).
Chicken wings (£6 for 10) – the wings have their own section on the menu as there are many different types and they come in different portion sizes, designed for sharing. If you are ordering as a starter on your own, don’t have more than 10 (there’s lots more food to come later) but if there’s a 3 or 4 of you, why not go big and order 30? The flavours … Chipotle, the classic American choice, is slightly sweet but pretty punchy and not for the faint-hearted. Lemon pepper was one of my favs as it’s unusual to get that option in restaurants. The citrus and the heat from the pepper are perfectly balanced and it tingles the tastebuds in all the right ways. Honey garlic is very subtle but tasty, and not too sweet given the honey coating. We didn’t try them but they also come in BBQ flavour.
The rest (£5-£12) – the rest of the starters include classics such as salads, soups, squid dishes and veggie options. Then there are the more unusual additions such as ceviche (raw/cured fish), beef tartare (raw), surf and turf skewers and crab dip.
The steaks (around £15-£25) – there are lots of different types of steak to consider and if you aren’t entirely sure what to order then the serving staff will be more than happy to help make some recommendations for you. They also have a meat board so you can check out the goods before you buy. I tried the fillet, one that most will opt for if it’s on a menu as it’s generally a safe bet on quality and taste. It was good, no doubt about it … but there are better options available. My favourite was the picanha. This is a cut from the top of the rump. It is flavoursome and moist and displayed beautifully in the style of Brazilian BBQ meat. It is a little on the fatty side though, as the cut has a layer of fat across the top; this is rendered down in cooking but doesn’t completely disappear and is what brings a lot of the flavour to the cut. The highest recommendation from the owners is the ribeye. Taken from the juicy rib section of the cow, but free from the bone, this cut has several layers of taste and is soft and melts in the mouth.
The rest – there are also a number of other dishes available for those who aren’t big steak lovers. This includes burgers, salads, fresh fish and veggie options.
The sides – the choice of sides here is pretty unreal! My absolute fav was the tomato blue cheese salad, which is served with pieces of red onion and a light dressing – perfectly balancing out the iron-rich meat. I also loved the corn, which is off-the-cob and available as plain char-grilled or with spicy chipotle sauce splashed across it. If you’re more of a traditionalist try the mash and gravy and the mushrooms; or for a fresh veg hit the asparagus and creamed spinach are perfectly cooked. There’s also joys such as mac ‘n’ cheese, cheese curd topped fried, onion rings, sweet potato wedges and much much more.
I’d still give all of my focus to the main course as the real highlight, so don’t necessarily hold back waiting for dessert. That being said, there are good choices and they are pretty tasty too. If you are already quite full then try out the Crème Brûlée or Eton Mess or if you still have lots of room then indulge with a brownie or the cheesecake.
We didn’t try many of the drinks on our adventure – the wines were good quality and the staff are happy to make recommendations on those that will match your meal. If you aren’t too full from your food or if you’re meeting up for something a bit more casual, then head up to the Bloc Bar for cocktails. We tried a fruity little number called the Blue Lady – very refreshing but didn’t taste too alcoholic. Price-wise you’re looking at less than £2 for a soft drink, less than £4 for a glass of wine and bottle starting from £17.50; the cocktails come in at £6-£10.
The staff here are really great in general and passionate about what they are doing. It helps that the owners really believe in it and that those values are passed on in the education and training. I have heard from a few others that they didn’t get as good service when they went, but please keep in mind that they are new and it’ll take them a while to weed out those who aren’t up to scratch … I have faith that they’ll do this!
I really liked this place. As someone that’s quite a newcomer to eating steak (mainly as I’d been put off by bad ones in the past), it was great to learn more about where my meat came from, how it is prepared and most importantly – what cuts might suit me as an individual instead of the most well-known.
I recommend the picanha, add sides of tomato Blue cheese salad, asparagus and fries! .
Address: Grays Brewery Yard, Springfield Road, Chelmsford, CM2 6QR
Phone: 01245 860 070