Arnette’s Chop Shop opened at the end of May on Apple Valley Road in Brookhaven. It’s the fourth concept from Michel Arnette and Word of Mouth Restaurant Group — a company that has owned and operated popular restaurants in the neighborhood for some 15 years, including Haven, Valenza and Vero Pizzeria.
Described by Arnette and chef/co-owner Stephen Herman as “a modern expression of the classic American steakhouse” with “a well-honed farm-to-table philosophy,” the offerings include starters and raw bar items, along with salads, sandwiches, seafood, entrees and sides.
But with some 16 different cuts of wet and dry-aged USDA Prime steaks from Chicago’s Allen Brothers, beef is notably at the heart of the menu.
Look for everything from a 4-ounce bone-in filet priced at $20 to a 40-ounce tomahawk dry-aged for 60 days and priced at $140. Of course, there are strip, rib-eye, porterhouse and other steak favorites on offer, plus rack of lamb, a long bone pork chop, and wood-roasted chicken.
Located in a sprawling renovated warehouse, the two-story space manages to be both sophisticated and welcoming with a mix of vintage, industrial and modern elements. The entrance features a wall of cubbyholes that hold the Chop Shop Knife Club members’ custom-made steak knives.
The main-floor dining room is arranged with wood and leather banquettes and tables, and decorated with an array of blown glass lights and bold paintings by Georgia artist Carrie Penley. On the second floor, Penley’s rock star portraits set the scene for a more casual dining experience focused on the full-service bar with an inviting lanai area for drinks beyond.
Last week, Arnette and Herman conducted a tour of the space and talked about some of the ideas behind the Chop Shop.
One of Arnette’s favorite details is the staircase that rises to the bar. It’s framed by wooden arches he said were made to resemble the rib cage of a steer.
Nearby at the Knife Club station, Arnette showed off a blade with a long serrated edge and the name of the owner engraved in the handle.
“This is all tied back into a loyalty program,” he said. “I wanted to give my guests this opportunity to brand their names inside the restaurant. I figured all these people who’d been with me for years would join and enjoy the benefits, which include discounts, private label wines, and events.
“I don’t take our guests for granted. There are fantastic restaurants all over this city. And I am blessed every time someone swings the doors open of one of my places and chooses to be there. Out of the almost 15 years that Haven has been open, the loyal people who have supported us and allowed us to grow, I want them to know we were loyal to them.”
Back in the dining room, Arnette explained the look and feel he hoped to create.
“The idea was to twist this thing and get out of the classic clubby men’s steakhouse thing, where you see lots of mahogany wood and red leather,” he said. “We wanted to go fresh and modern. It started with these treated cedar walls that were kiln-fired that have that sort of warm texture.”
For his part, Herman said that like the look, the goal with the menu was to create more variety and choices.
“We started with the idea that a lot of steakhouses have a kind of typical menu format that the majority of them work off of,” Herman said. “But we weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. We were just trying to do our version. There are classic elements, and then there are our own elements. We’re doing sandwiches as kind of a nod to the neighborhood element so someone could come in and not spend steakhouse prices.
“For the steaks, we wanted to serve Prime beef and sell the best. But we wanted to have a feminine side to it, where we have smaller cuts. A 5-6-ounce steak is really a good size for somebody who wants to eat smaller. People can share the larger cuts, and all our sides can be shared by two or three people.”
2700 Apple Valley Road NE, Brookhaven. 404-969-0701, arnetteschopshop.com.
Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Arnette’s Chop Shop