Restaurant of the Week: MODERN CHOPHOUSE

MODERN OYSTERBAR CHOPHOUSE gives diners a locally-owned option for fresh seafood and high-end steaks in a central location on Scottsdale Road and Gold Dust Ave.

With nearly a century combined at some of the most heralded steakhouses in the valley, the team behind MODERN OYSTERBAR CHOPHOUSE knows what it takes to provide a world-class experience. They also know that in an area where it feels like there may be more upper-end steakhouses than people, to stand out, they need to raise the bar. With MODERN, they’ve done just that.

The atmosphere is high-class and luxurious. The best restaurants usually seem to have their own distinct personality and MODERN is no exception. Whether you sit inside near the raw oyster bar that is centrally located or have the opportunity to sit outside on the patio among the fire pit and outdoor bar, you can only hope your mouth will have the same experience as the rest of your senses.

As you would expect from a restaurant with a giant oyster bar in the center of the dining room, there are plenty of seafood options to choose from throughout your meal. If you and your guests are feeling adventurous, the Chilled Seafood Plateaux (Towers) offers a “best-of” sampling that will allow everyone to enjoy their favorite item. Depending on the number of people in your party – and your hunger level – you can choose from “low tide”, “high tide”, or “tidal wave”. Each offers a varying amount of lobster, king crab legs and claws, shrimp and oysters. Whichever you select, an accompaniment of six sauces come along with your selection including outstanding chimichurri and red pepper remoulade sauces. All the fish were fresh, but the biggest surprise came in the size. The king crab lived up to its name, the oysters were the pick of the litter, and the shrimp looked like they went to the gym frequently.

Plenty of other choices are also available for a first course. Starters like the pan-seared foie gras that sat atop a crispy brioche and smoked pork belly with a butternut mousse and tomato jam will please diners who prefer items from land. There are multiple Soup & Salad options as well, like an earthy beet salad or a buratta and tomato salad with heirloom and cherry tomatoes.

The entrees are separated into two main categories: “Meat & Bones” and “Fins & Shells”. Classic steak add-ons and a dozen side options are available; and if you haven’t gotten enough of seafood served vertically, two Warm Seafood Plateaux options replace the oysters and crab claws with grilled scallops for a more entree-styled Tower. If MODERN is only to be judged as a steakhouse by its steaks, it holds its own with the best. The long bone ribeye is 32 ounces of perfectly-cooked, well-marbled decadence. It’s dry-aged for 40 days and the balance of outside sear with a wonderfully tender inside shows the deftness of Executve Chef Mike Bouwens’ crew.

The MODERN cocktail list features classic steakhouse cocktails with significant twists. The “modern” old fashioned made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon also includes a housemade maple bourbon caramel with a chocolate and smoke bitters. The beautifully-colored cucumber twist is simple with Prairie cucumber vodka, chambord, and Golden Falernum but the combination works perfectly for a refreshing, unique cocktail. Select beers are available as well.

Specific mention must be given to the wine list, curated by MODERN co-founder Frank Schneider. A poorly-kept secret in the restaurant industry is how overpriced and unimaginative many wine lists are. The reasons for this are complex and could be its own article, but the MODERN wine list is a wine connoiseur’s (non-millionaire division) dream, and I imagine the list will only expand as the restaurant grows. Fans of Italian wines who know for an absolute fact believe few things in life are better than a big Italian wine with a medium-rare steak will appreciate seeing Amarone, Barolo, Brunello, and more on the list. There are a few French selections as well. For fans of Napa wines (as many Arizona diners are), the list is lengthy, including traditional stars like Silver Oak and Caymus as well as more niche and cult favorites.

After all the fabulous food and wine, it is time for dessert. If you don’t make it past the first item on the dessert list before ordering, nobody would blame you: bacon french toast bread pudding. Caramelized banana ice cream, maple bourbon caramel, and housemade candied bacon all in a cast iron dish that make for the perfect savory/sweet combination. Pastry chef Samantha Frankel displays an immense amount of talent and touch with that dish and other desserts like the “candy bar” and the dulce de leche cheesecake. She also handles the Charcuterie & Cheese selections.

For discerning guests who want a world-class dining experience, but also would prefer to patronize a family/locally-owned business, MODERN OYSTERBAR CHOPHOUSE offers the best of both worlds. In addition to Schneider, co-founders Cat and Randy Frankel can both be seen on the floor, greeting guests and helping out wherever is needed. That seems more throwback than modern, but if MODERN is indicative of where fine dining is headed, restaurant goers are in for happy days ahead.

MODERN OYSTERBAR CHOPHOUSE is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. Happy Hour is available Tuesday through Saturday at the bar from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

To view the full menu, make reservations, or for more information, visit

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