Restaurant Review: 111 Chop House
By Gary Kelley
111 Chop House is arguably one of my favorite restaurants in the area, ever since its 1999 opening.
Where else can you go for an upscale steakhouse experience and not head into Boston?
My family has gone to 111 for celebrations…anniversaries, big birthdays, graduations, and…well….events. I’ve also had a number of small group business events at 111 over the years.
When 111 first opened, it was a nearly perfect restaurant experience (with the exception of parking). Two waitpersons ensured each party had exceptional service, with delicious steaks and sides.
As we suggested the Chop House to other couples we noted some of the luster was wearing off. We were beginning to hear some inconsistency creeping into discussions, and indeed had experienced it ourselves. Can any restaurant keep a high standard over time?
The answer is clearly, YES, and over the past year, we’ve visited 111 Chop House three times and whatever inconsistencies have vanished. And now, there is valet parking (highly recommended) every night of the week, so 111 Chop House is back, better than the past!
We spent a few minutes with long time GM Aaron Francisco and asked why Westborough residents should drive “all the way” (20 – 30 minutes) to 111 Chop House. “Westborough is one of those bubble towns (note: he did not say Westbubble) where residents are willing to drive for an exceptional dining experience, and often will go into Boston. They can come to 111 Chop House and have a Boston style and quality experience at a Worcester price point.”
While Aaron would not divulge the shear tonnage of beef served at 111 on a monthly basis, he offered Executive Chef Benjamin Stevens oversees the menu, with filets representing 50% of the beef sold.
We noted a perceived increase in the number of fish offerings on the menu, and Aaron offered, “We’ve always offered a wide selection of fish entrees in addition to steak. Haddock is our most popular fish item, with all our fish coming from The Sole Proprietor.”
The Worcester Restaurant Group is run by Robb and Madeleine Ahlquist, founders of The Sole Proprietor, One Eleven Chop House and VIA. They opened the Sole Proprietor in 1979, and (according to their Website) the Sole serves 350,000 meals a year and has 85 full-time equivalent employees. VIA, their third restaurant, opened in 2007.
Aaron is particularly proud of the 111 Chop House wine list and associated value.
“We believe wine can be a part of any night out, and our pricing encourages excellent affordability.”
111 also has very popular wine dinners on a monthly basis. We overheard one server, “They keep attendance limited at the wine dinners, so it is an intimate event.”
Aaron was also excited by Worcester Restaurant Weeks, August 1st – 14th, Price-Fixed Menu of a 3-Course Dinner for $23.11. “We offer three choices for the three course menu.”
Of course, we did ask about some of the inconsistencies of the past. Aaron was very disappointed to learn of any disappointment. “If your readers have issues, either ask for me or drop me an email at [email protected]”
With review business completed, we got down to the real deal.
We started with a favorite, shrimp cocktail. The shrimp are always plump, and crisp. The cocktail sauce should be bottled; it is a delicious tomato base with just the right amount of kick (horseradish.)
Our salad was a bit unconventional, and a favorite. It is a solid lettuce wedge, and we pass on Bleu Cheese in favor of bacon bits (everything tastes better with bacon) and a balsamic dressing.
Our main course was a delicious bone-in Sirloin Steak, cooked and seasoned to perfection.
The mammoth sides are meant to be shared. We like the asparagus, macaroni and cheese, and an off-the-menu request of wasabi mashed potatoes.
We never have room for desert at 111 Chop House, and often finish the evening with a nice cappuccino.
So readers, please rest assured. We’ll gladly return to 111 Chop House regularly seeking any imperfections solely as a public service.
111 Chop House gets a:
Green Light – Go and enjoy
About the RAG scale:
Green Light – Go and enjoy
Amber Light – Use caution
Red Light – Save your time and money
Gary Kelley has lived in Westborough since 1994. His reviews are what he would tell friends, and are not an academic analysis.