A Feel-Good Spot That Tastes Even Better: Olde Florida Chop House in Bonita Springs Is Buttoned-Up—Yet RelaxedNov 23, 2020 05:00PM ● By GINA BIRCH
The doors of Olde Florida Chop House had been open for only three months when COVID-19 forced them closed. Operators Stacy and Darren Robertshaw, along with general manager Addison Hyre, used the unexpected, unprecedented time off to reevaluate, regroup and reopen.
The small boutique steakhouse at the equally boutique Trianon Hotel in Bonita Springs is not a chain, it’s the couple’s vision. They have a long history in the hospitality industry, including distinguished careers with Ritz Carlton. Moving from California, Darren helped open Ritz Carlton’s all over the world in Food & Beverage. Stacy worked there, too, and many of their Olde Florida Chop House employees have Ritz Carlton backgrounds.
“There is nothing like the excellence in service at the Ritz—and you see it here,” Darren says proudly.
The chic waterfront steakhouse is dressed in blue tones and dark wood, with Florida-inspired artworks hanging on the walls. An outdoor patio, where distance seating is observed, is popular both day and night, when it takes on a more romantic feel.
The bar’s high shelves are lined with 80 selections, including a variety of bourbon and whiskey. Craft cocktails are beautifully presented; many with unique twists, like the smoked cocktail made with bourbon that has been new aged in bourbon barrels.
It's a feel-good spot that tastes even better, serving classic cuts of beef, all carved in house. You’ll still find the big boys here, however: “The smaller cuts are more trendy now,” Darren explains.
Perfectly cooked to any desired temperature, guests may also order a variety of toppings and sauces to accompany their steaks. Many side dishes are those traditionally found in steakhouses, but here you’ll also get decadent crab and lobster mac and cheese, crispy Brussels sprouts and Parmesan Truffle Pomme Frites—to name a few.
When in season, stone crabs can be added to any entrée in a nod to surf and turf. When it comes to surf, the lobster bisque is a must. It arrives deconstructed, then artfully assembled tableside.
The new standard of distancing tables may reduce the number of nightly diners, but it also allows space for the staff to go “old school”—reigniting classic tableside presentations that require room and take time. Take, for instance, the Dover sole. It comes out whole and is deboned in front of guests.
There is also space for the flames and fanfare that accompany cherries jubilee or baked Alaska. Other desserts getting rave reviews include a fluffy soufflé and creamy Key lime pie.
While many restaurants have dropped lunch service since the pandemic, Olde Florida Chop House has added it. The intimate, sophisticated restaurant is ideal for power lunching, as well as for lingering over a glass of wine.
A number of different burgers are available; all the best-quality beef and all mouthwatering. For Southern fun, try the Wagyu Burger with pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes. On the seafood side, dive into black shrimp and grits or pan-seared grouper over Parmesan truffle risotto.
Dining here during the holiday season is especially festive, with lights from Bonita Bay dancing across the lake. There is plenty of parking, along with valet service. All employees wear masks.
Olde Florida Chop House is an ideal combination of elegance and approachability; buttoned-up—yet relaxed. Perhaps best of all, “The quality of our food and service is unbeatable,” Darren says. “We feel good about where we are.”
Gina Birch is a Southwest Florida media personality, a lover of food and a connoisseur of wine who contributes regularly to TOTI Media