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London Chop House 

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The London Chop House offers a fine dining experience unparalleled in metro Detroit. This iconic Detroit institution originally opened in 1938 and remained open for 53 years, racking up national accolades as being THE place to see and be seen outside of New York and L.A. Known as much for its exquisite food and service as it was for being the social hub of Detroit's power elite – and during the many years of the Chop House's reign as the grand dame of Detroit dining, Detroit's power elite were among the nation's top – the Chop House is legendary, so much more than a space but a symbol of wealth, power and prestige.

And one year ago it reopened.

Now owned by Nico Gatzaros of the long-time family of Detroit entrepreneurs, the London Chop House underwent a total renovation that took two years to complete. What was a serious gamble to make in the recession-steeped Detroit of 2010 has paid off: the London Chop House has been completely reborn, and in a way totally faithful to the look and spirit of the original.

From the red leather booths and banquettes to the cherry-stained wood panel walls and the glossy wooden bar with plush leather bar seats, even down to the vintage phone booths, the new London Chop House is a faithful and detailed recreation of the old. And in doing so, it has recreated all of the grandeur and splendor of the original, living up to its own very prestigious name.

The clientele is predominantly metro Detroit's business elite, much as it was in its previous incarnation. Whether one thought it a wise decision to revive such an iconic concept from Detroit's former glory days or not, the London Chop House has been able to recapture that same sense of high-powered sophistication.

Make no mistake, this is a place to splurge. This is a place to put on your finest gowns and tuxes and not look at the menu prices (the menu is a lot of things, but "accessible," which is usually code for "affordable," which is another way of saying "cheap," it is not).

The menu is not extensive but it is exceptional. You will find a selection of aged steaks, rich seafood dishes in decadent cream sauces, signature dishes from the original LCH like the Veal Chop Oscar (with lump crab), and appetizers like Oysters Rockefeller and a Hudson Valley foie gras preparation.

Yes, this menu is many things, but "light" is also not one of them.

Lunch is mostly smaller portions of dinner items with some sandwiches added on. They've also got a nice selection of salads for lunch and dinner, like the baby arugula and roasted beet salad with pistachio-encrusted goat cheese, soft-baked pear, candied walnut vinaigrette and warm orange blossom honey.

If you like things that are raw, come here. LCH serves oysters on the half shell (east and west coast) with all of the necessary accompaniments over ice. They also have a seared ahi tuna entrée with roasted red potato, haricot vert, anchovy tomato vinaigrette and lemon sage aioli, but take our word for it and do not skip the phenomenal steak tartare (it's raw) served with warm frisee and porcini vinaigrette with a soft-poached egg and a sliver of truffle on top.

The 200-bottle wine selection is heavy on heavy-hitting Napa cabs, and because this is indeed a place to splurge, they also have some of the world's most coveted (and most costly) wines – labels that can go $500 to 1,000 per bottle from producers like the Famous French Five: Latour, Lafite, Mouton, Margaux and Petrus.

The London Chop House is unapologetic old-world elegance and opulence, and having her back in Detroit feels like a sure sign of Detroit's return to its glory days. | RDW

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