Arnette’s Chop Shop, an upscale steakhouse with a casual vibe, is one of the newest restaurants to move into Brookhaven. Owned by restaurateur Michel Arnette, it is the fourth concept for Word of Mouth Restaurant Group. Arnette completed his team with Scott Spielberg as the general manager and Stephen Herman as the executive chef. The bi-level steakhouse is designed with a modern industrial theme combined with exceptional service and gourmet cuisine, creating an ambiance unique to the city of Brookhaven, Arnette said.
“What a great way to fit into the neighborhood … it’s perfect for people who want to come out, have a steak, Caesar salad and glass of wine and don’t feel like you broke the bank at an expensive steakhouse.”
The restaurant is one of the few businesses in the newly developed area of Brookhaven on Apple Valley Road. Arnette worked with an architect to build the space, but handled most of the interior design himself. The style is modern industrial while exuding an atmosphere of rich elegance, he said.
“The important thing for me is to give a grand entrance. I knew I would get it with the open host space because it has super high ceilings and a long sprawling staircase. I wanted Atlanta’s largest entrance door. We needed a set of doors that opened the private dining room that looked like huge warehouse doors. The door is clad in zinc and we wanted to give it an incredible round, open handle. I wanted the doors to slide apart to expose the dining room.”
The entire space is a feast for the eyes, and when looking up at the ribcage staircase, guests are immediately tempted to explore the upper level featuring a beach-inspired lanai. When designing the restaurant, Arnette said he listened to what his neighbors wanted and what the diners wanted, which was a lavish, upscale bar experience. The upstairs features booth seating with portraits of old rock stars like Debbie Harry, Jimi Hendrix, and Mick Jagger, a concept he said balances both worlds.
“We wanted you to feel like you could be poolside and I wanted a grand open bar. I wanted an indoor/outdoor bar component that we could use year-round and anytime it rained we can just keep on going. It’s great because I can separate the bar experience and do something super unique that’s got a casual elegance in a dim-lit setting.”
The focus as it relates to the beverage program is high-end liquor, a “fantastic wine selection” and specialty cocktails. All beverages are poured from the bottle, and nothing is poured from a gun. The menu is characteristic of a trendy steakhouse with a few tweaks that cater to the Southern palate. Appetizers include Tuna Crudo made with chili, mint and pistachios, Wagyu Beef Tartare, hearth-roasted oysters, and caviar.
The entrees begin with steak options such as the 18-ounce dry-aged KC Strip and the 22-ounce Painted Hills Cowboy Ribeye. There is also a dry-aged Rack of Lamb, Dover Sole, Burrata Ravioli made with pistachio pesto, the Wood Roasted Green Circle Farm Chicken made with chimichurri, and lobster spaghetti. The menu is rounded out with unexpected starches and vegetables such as glazed carrots and pistachios, shiitake and artichoke gratin, loaded hasselback, and Fettuccine Alfredo.
When curating the menu, Herman thought about traditional entrees that could be customized for a modern steakhouse. He’s worked for Arnette for more than 15 years and has been at the helm of every restaurant under the Word of Mouth umbrella. Arnette’s Chop Shop is a reflection of their growth as restaurateurs and his maturity as a chef, Herman said.
“I think we set a little bit of a higher standard for ourselves as far as the kind of cooking we’re doing and the quantity we’re doing because this is our biggest restaurant. We wanted to go big or go home, and so we hold ourselves at a very high standard.”
The restaurant incorporated a member’s only knife club, complete with personally engraved knives housed in leather pouches on a library wall. The level of service required to maintain the member’s only knife club forced Herman to think about details that he took for granted. For example, the group rethought the idea of the chef’s tables and decided to place them outside of the kitchen at counter height to provide a more enjoyable interactive experience.
Unlike other steakhouses, Arnette’s Chop Shop provides guests two options for their fare – charbroiled or cooked over an open hearth. Herman was inspired by restaurants in Chicago that cook shellfish over an open hearth and decided to forgo the traditional shellfish tower. The result is deep-roasted-flavored shellfish topped with a light buttery crust. As the executive chef, he really wanted to focus on cooking the shellfish over an open hearth and said, so far it has been successful.
“It’s been a fun learning experience. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone,” Herman said. “It opened a whole layer of possibilities.”