The Prince of Pork Chops & A Note About “Too Good” Service

tomahawk chop

It’s otherwise known as a “tomahawk chop” because it resembles that Native North American small axe, but at this restaurant, it’s delivered with an unbearable amount of attention.

On the menu of I’m Angus Steakhouse, it’s called a US-Duroc Pork Chop, the “Black Angus of Pork” because of its heft (15 ounces) and because it’s cut from the rib section of the loin with the upper part of the rib bone attached. Also known as a pork rib chop bone-in, this particular cut is regarded by (US) butchers as the prime rib of the pork loin (where the best pork chops come from).

Good fried or baked, it’s outstanding when grilled as they do at I’m Angus, the steakhouse of the Werdenberg group, mother company of Säntis, Carpaccio, Chesa Bianca, etc. A relatively intimate restaurant with just seven tables lorded over by an open kitchen and a much larger (smoking) space at back, this restaurant is one where I immediately know I’m going to be taken care of.

Perhaps too well taken care of.

The second my bum hits the chair, a server classically clad in all black, scurries towards me with a stool for my bag. I decline because I’ve got a bag hook for it. Water seems to instantly appear in our drinking glasses and as I open my menu, here’s another server: back erect, pen at the ready, her eagerness to serve practically luminescent on her face. Uneasy, Franco and I scan the menu and order quickly. When our server notices we’re not having wine today, I swear I see her chin droop. Bread is served with a flourish of “A soft roll today, Ma’am, Sir,” followed by, “and some butter, herbed and spicy.” Being rabid water drinkers, our glasses are refilled when they’re only half-empty. My table napkin is about to slide to the floor – and I only notice when a server suddenly materializes by my side: “Your napkin, Ma’am.”

It’s of utmost importance for every server to intuitively understand the dance of “deliver and disappear” that must be adjusted for each customer; any more or any less and good service crosses the fine line to obsequiousness. “I’m not sure what’s worse, being paid attention to or not at all,” muses Franco, after his glass is filled for the nth time.

And on it goes in this vein. When Franco takes out his camera (a most ballsy move), four pairs of peepers bear down on our table simultaneously from across the room as if by weird psychokinetic force – MISSION: ELIMINATE CAMERA! Any second now, there’ll be a blinding white light and then, bye-bye Franco’s camera. (Thank god it doesn’t happen that way).

Quit Playing With the Pepper
When our mains arrive, the servers perform that song and dance number of swooping down on the puny pepper mill (which is sitting on our table), holding it aloft like a Beretta, and ceremoniously asking, “Care for some fresh pepper?”

I hate this part.

I don’t understand why there’s such a big to-do in most restaurants about grinding pepper. Any idiot could do it. And most pepper mills I’ve seen aren’t anything I’d certainly pay attention to, with the exception of the one at The Spaghetti Factory at Glorietta; that one was like 18 inches long and so big that I half-expected peppercorns to come spitting out of it like a machine-gun. But anyway, yes, I don’t get the pepper hanky-panky bit at restaurants. I want to grind my own pepper, please. Why not ask me instead if I’d like some freshly-ground salt? I love salt more.

cross-section of porkchop

Despite eating under the ingratiating act-like-your-grandmother’s-watching-you stares of at least two servers, Franco enjoys his dish and I enjoy my tomahawk chop. Almost two inches thick and about twice as wide, my first slice releases wafts of porcine perfume. Oozing juice, evidence I believe of a good long brining, it’s tender and almost too subtle – until I scatter some fresh rosemary needles and a grind of coarse salt to accompany each bite. Such a simple addition makes the flavor bloom most extraordinarily. I appreciate the quartet of mustards offered: blueberry, tarragon, Dijon, and something I understand to be Burgundy.

im-angus-004

Next time I’ll order the Tomahawk Beef Steak and eat it with my hands. (Evil laugh).

I’m Angus Steakhouse
See website for details and menu.

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