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Chops 'n' Catch a Sure Hit

Newly opened restaurant offers great food with local ingredients.

Opened in early December, is a contemporary take on the classic steak and seafood restaurant. Featuring a diverse menu created by owner and chef Corey Wry, Chops 'N Catch fills the void between high class and casual. Local grown and raised Connecticut products are featured widely throughout the menu and wine list, giving a local feel and taste to the selection. The high quality food and beverages at Chops 'n' Catch make for a satisfying meal in this unique restaurant.

Look and Feel: A renovation of the old Nulli's has given Chops 'n' Catch the atmosphere of a fine steakhouse. The dining room is well decorated with ocean-inspired art. The low lighting gives a soft glow to the location. The bar area has comfortable booth seating, along with chairs at the bar. The lobby of the restaurant needs some improvement, and takes away from the charm of the restaurant proper. Also in need of improvement are the uniforms of the waitstaff, as they call to mind the tacky uniforms seen in chain restaurants. A quality establishment deserves tastefully dressed staff. Reservations are recommended, as wait times on a Friday night easily topped an hour.

Food: The menu has a diverse feel to it, offering much more than steak and fish. There are many options, but not so many to feel overwhelming. The starters section had some interesting choices, and we ended up with the 10-Penny Steamed Mussels. The mussels are served in a large bowl over chorizo, roasted peppers and garlic, and with a pair of toasted crostini. The chorizo made for a nice addition, as mussels can definitely use a strongly flavored sidekick. The wide selection of entrees are drawn from the experiences of chef and owner Corey Wry, and the personal touch is evident. There are many unique dishes, including a Dr. Pepper infused braised short rib, and Judy's Chicken, a dish styled after a meal created by Wry's mother. On this particular night, I chose a 16 ounce boneless ribeye, which comes seasoned with a custom peppermill blend, along with a side of broccolini and horseradish sauce. While the steak had the wonderful texture of a ribeye, I felt that the spice blend needed to add a unique flavor, as most of the flavor came from cracked peppercorn. The first member of my party ordered Willie's Sizzling Sirloin, a small steak served on a hot skillet over a vegetable mix that included peppers, onions, and potatoes. For a side dish, she chose a baked sweet potato with brown sugar and butter. A nice, thick steak, the sirloin was tasty and juicy, with the flavors of the vegetable mix adding to the meat. Another companion ordered the New England Market Cod, a fresh fish selection, alongside a baked potato. The fish had an herb crust, and was cooked to perfection. Two members of our party ordered off of the kabob section of the menu. Each dish was served with hummus and pita, lending a Mediterranean feel to the meal. The first meal was a kabob with Filet Mignon and sea scallops. The filet was very tender, and the sea scallops made for a great grill choice. The second kabob was served with Southwestern shrimp. The spice blend on the shrimp gave a it a great taste, and made for a good contrast with the hummus. The final member of our party ordered the special of the night, a braised pork shank served over risotto and ratatouille. The portion was very generous, and all the ingredients came together well. The large shank was cooked well, yet was still tender and juicy.

Drinks: The variety of beverages at Chops 'n' Catch is diverse and extensive. The wine list features wines from Connecticut vineyards, as well as selections from international wineries. They have a good selection of beers on draft, and offer mixed drinks and cocktails as well. I paired the house's Twisted Merlot with my ribeye steak, and the Merlot made for a fine match.

Prices: The prices at Chops 'n' Catch occupy a middle range, between a chain restaurant and a fine-dining establishment. While some of the entrees reach into the upper twenties, there are options available in the teens, without sacrificing quality. Be prepared to spend around $80.00 including tip for a full dinner and appetizer for two, with wine for each person.

Verdict: Though on the higher end of the price range for restaurants in Manchester, Chops 'n' Catch offers the quality to warrant the tag. The wonderfully diverse menu has something for everyone, and the emphasis on local products is commendable. The dining room atmosphere provides a comfortable venue for a night out as a couple or with a group. Only weeks old, Chops 'n' Catch has a bright future ahead. 

M. Troy January 21, 2011 at 03:03 PM
I just have to say one more thing. For years I've been saying we need a steak and seafood restaurant in this part of town. What a dissapointment.
Gary Benson January 24, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Well, I don't consider myself a reataurant critic BUT, I do know good food. My wife and I recently had diner at CW's and it was very good! I had the "Willie's Sizzling Serloin" and it was excellent! My wife had a seafood meal and enjoyed it very much and the servings were ample. I would submit that this is a new venture and there are a few kinks to work out but overall we enjoyed our evening. I differ from the reviewer in that I liked the uniforms worn by the staff. They were stylish, crisp and clean. I would agree that the lobby is in definite need but I also know there was a need to get the establishment up and running. I would suggest that M. Troy and Jeff give CW's another shot in a month or so. I certainly will!
M. Troy January 24, 2011 at 02:26 PM
OK Gary got me again. I've been coupped up in my house for the last 7 months. Watching probably every food channel there is. We will give them another shot. But I really hope it was just a fluke and maybe the cook had an off day, everybody does.
cab January 29, 2011 at 07:07 PM
CAB Sorry to say my family was greatly disappointed. From the wait time, quality of food, presentation, price, noise level, and much more. Seems you have the same attitude that you have in Ketchup and Mustard, but want much more out of your new place. You will have to come a long way to make that happen. Once seated it took a total of 1 1/2 hours to get orders, drinks, and service. Will not return and will call in person to speak with owner. We felt very bad.
Janet Tracy March 07, 2011 at 04:49 PM
I had the same experience, the service was so slow it became the joke for the night. We sat 30min before we grabbed someone to take our meal order, the food was just OK. The noise level from a party in the other room was crazy loud. We finished our meal and had to grab someone for our check after sitting 20 min, we did not dare order dessert. Again after 20 min we grabbed someone so we could pay our bill and leave, a long night. 2 1/2 hours was a long dinner.Never again.

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