New York

A spread of dishes from Gus's Chop House
Gus’s Chop House opens on Aug. 31. All photos by Teddy Wolff, courtesy of Gus’s Chop House

The RundownNew York

Everything You Need to Know About the Popina Team’s New Restaurant, Gus’s Chop House

By

The words “chop house” and “New York” might bring to mind martinis, white tablecloths, and expense accounts, but Gus’s Chop House, a new neighborhood spot in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, is more like a gastropub you’ll find across the pond than a fancy steakhouse you’ll find across the river. Co-owners and partners Chris McDade and James O’Brien of nearby Popina want it that way.

Here’s everything you need to know about Gus’s Chop House, opening on Aug. 31.

1. It’s not like other New York steakhouses.

There’s a time and place for a dry-aged rib eye accompanied by an obligatory side of creamed spinach and pricey bottle of red, but Gus’s Chop House presents a much more laid-back, personal, and inviting option. “It’s more about people in the neighborhood getting together, having a pint of beer, and sharing a steak. It can be part of their weekly routine,” says McDade, who formerly cooked at Maialino, Marta, Estela, Huertas, and Altro Paradiso.

The restaurant’s name, too, is of note: While it’s got an old-school ring to it, it’s named for McDade’s son, Gus.

McDade is sourcing meat, including under-appreciated cuts, such as pork shoulder and lamb loin, from sustainable farms in an effort to bring high-quality options at reasonable prices to his diners. Chops and steaks typically will start around $28 with the higher end around $49 for a dry-aged New York strip.

The 300-label wine list, which offers bottles at all different price points follows suit. More than 110 of those bottles are under $100, and there will be an entire separate wine list featuring a collection of those more affordable labels.

2. It’s meant to be a neighborhood spot.

The value-driven food and beverage menus are just part of the equation to encourage regular customers and create a comfortable joint that becomes a neighborhood hangout — something McDade and O’Brien with Popina, their beloved Columbia Waterfront restaurant serving Italian and Southern cuisine. “This has only been magnified after COVID; we want a place that’s a community,” says O’Brien.

It was important to both owners that the menus offer simple and familiar fare that makes diners feel at home. Some dishes, namely from the snacks section, will change with the seasons and available ingredients, but a core set of items will always be there. “We want people to come and get what they want all the time,” says McDade.

3. Let’s talk about the food.

The menu draws heavily on the owners’ travels and culinary experiences. In the snacks section, which features staples like deviled eggs and oysters, they serve a play on leeks vinaigrette, the French bistro classic. But this version, called Leeks à la Wedge, takes cues from the wedge salad thanks to its blue cheese and pork elements. A hashbrown, meanwhile, comes with smoked trout and everything-bagel spice — an homage to New York.

One unexpected dish McDade is excited about is a Bo Bo Chicken, a preparation where the chicken comes with the head and feet intact. At Gus’s, they dry-brine the chicken, stuff it with lemon and herbs, and slow-roast it until it’s almost fully cooked. Then they deep-fry the bird and serve it with a French onion jus.

Another unique standout is the housemade soda bread — something you don’t see a lot on menus in the area, but a recipe McDade has been perfecting. Dessert veers more traditional, with steakhouse favorites like chocolate mousse and crème brûlée.

4. Look out for Sunday Roast.

The restaurant is opening with dinner service to start, but soon will add a Sunday Roast, likely offered in the afternoon and evening, featuring centerpiece proteins alongside seasonal sides to share with the table. They’ll serve affordable roast options like chicken, lamb rump, or pork shoulder, but there will also be a prime rib. “This way, you can come in and eat for $29 on a Sunday, or you can blow it out and eat for a lot more,” McDade says.

5. The vibe is old school, and intimate.

Whereas Popina garners its locals-first vibe from a cozy interior (there are only a handful of tables inside), and its sprawling backyard (great for families, celebrations, but also date night), Gus’s entices the local community with a different — and no less inclusive — feel.

The bar, in particular, is a centerpiece of the restaurant, and was crafted by local talent Charles Grantham, founder of Red Hook-based Wood Steel Stone, who lives just around the corner from the restaurant. Grantham made the cherry wood bar along with other custom wood pieces for Gus’s, including a service station and a set of round tables in the back of the dining room.

James O'Brien (left) and Chris McDade
James O’Brien (left) and Chris McDade.
James O'Brien (left) and Chris McDade
James O’Brien (left) and Chris McDade.

6. Do not sleep on the wine, or the cocktails.

Like he does at Popina, O’Brien runs the beverage program at Gus’s and the wine list here isn’t overwhelming, but it is special enough that oenophiles will want to go out of their way to make it here. The list includes bottles from some of the best producers in the world — with the price points to match — but it will also include more affordable options that bring something new to the table. Expect Syrah from the Northern Rhone and other deeper, more structured wines that play well with steak, lamb, and a meat-centric menu. Most important to O’Brien is offering a range of well-priced wines that are drinking well at the current moment, pair well with the food, and offer those “ah-ha moments” that make you reconsider all the “rules” you thought you were supposed to follow.

As for the cocktails, O’Brien plans to serve up classics with dialed-in ingredients that really highlight the flavors and textures of the drinks. Martinis are made with a vermouth that heightens the citrus or herbal qualities of the gin, while Manhattans feature a blend of vermouths to soften the richness of the Carpano Antica, but still achieve that same mouthfeel. Along with perfecting a steady collection of staples, O’Brien also wants bartenders to get creative and come up with their own specials — an important example of the restaurant’s inclusive, convivial vibe.

So, don’t be a stranger. Pull up a seat at the Brooklyn-made bar or grab a cozy table in the back and sip on a Concord grape and rum smash while you peruse the seasonal snacks and steaks. Or, just ask for “the usual.”

 

Gus’s Chop House is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. to start.    

 

Alison Spiegel is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Resy, too.