Swordfish and pork chops and steak, oh my! It's no surprise that there's more to MacKenzie's Chop House than beef, but it sure makes it difficult deciding on an entree.
With a variety of meat cuts identified as house specialties, it might be easy to overlook the other possibilities, including seafood and pork. But don't.
Executive chef Pete Moreno's Dinner Fresh Sheet, a weekly listing featuring a few special appetizers and entrees, complements the regular menu. Moreno has overseen MacKenzie's kitchen for nine years. If our server was representative of the overall impressive quality of the staff, there's someone to enthusiastically and knowledgeably answer questions.
We began with roasted bone marrow ($14.95) augmented by escargot and herbed shallots. The accompanying grilled, thin slices of ciabatta bread were perfect to spread the marrow on and for sopping up the meaty, buttery juices.
The Caesar salad ($7.95) was a standard execution. It did, however, serve as a nice palate cleanser between the appetizer and entrees.
MacKenzie's offers an array of tantalizing choices. The steaks are prime cuts ranging from sirloin to ribeye, from flatiron to porterhouse, from bison to lamb, in various portion sizes from 8 to 26 ounces. That's right, more than a pound and a half!
In the seafood department, the possibilities are almost as daunting: salmon, Alaskan king crab legs, ahi tuna and lobster tail for a surf and turf option.
Our server's description of the swordfish made it impossible to refuse. Four small pieces of fish each wrapped in bacon and served atop a bed of risotto infused with truffle oil. Admittedly, she had us at bacon. This was a delicate dish. The swordfish was light and flaky; the risotto creamy and rich. It was a balance of texture and flavor.
When the pork tomahawk chop ($28.95) arrived at the table, our conversation came to a halt thanks to the remarkable plating. The name is an apt description. Easily two inches thick, the bone-in grilled 14-ounce chop featured pear and mustard butter. It's an odd-sounding combination, but the sweet and tangy aspects complemented the impressively tender meat.
Roasted Brussels sprouts and whipped sweet potatoes not only added color to the plate, but rivaled the chop. I neglected to mention that the smooth, velvety sweet potatoes were made with Brie. This rendition was a Fresh Sheet special; another tomahawk chop ($28.95) is included on the regular dinner menu. The differences were in the sides and the sauce.
We should have concluded the meal following the entrée and it would have been happy ending. However, we succumbed to temptation and shared a creme brulee. It was like the Caesar salad - not exceptional.
The décor showcases historic black and white photographic prints of the city's bygone days. Empty wine bottles, reflecting the restaurant's impressive list of domestic and foreign wines, serve as accents to the comfortable, dark leather booths that line the walls. This, with the low lighting, evokes a bygone era.
In addition to the wine list, MacKenzie's offers mixed drinks and, according to its website, up to 40 different types of martinis.
MacKenzie's popularity, based on the fact that we saw no empty tables, is well-deserved. Service is exceptional, the ambiance is comfortable and the food fit the bill for the special occasion or dinner with friends.
Editor's note: This review has been updated to reflect the correct name of MacKenzie's Executive Chef Pete Moreno.