If you’re confused over the differences between a chophouse and a steakhouse, we’ll let the chef Greg Villalon offer some clarity. Steakhouses are usually exclusively dedicated to steaks, he says, while chophouses are more, um, all-encompassing—which means it can also offer other meat entrees like smoked meats. “[But] honestly, the chophouse, I think it’s just a younger, more contemporary approach to a steakhouse,” says Villalon, “which can sometimes be stiff.”
Well, the meat joint the chef helped open a few weeks ago is definitely a chophouse then. It’s called The Lost Cow and it’s not your ordinary chophouse, too, because it’s inside an extraordinary location: the Amorita Resort in Bohol. And just like the chef’s description of a chophouse, The Lost Cow boasts of steaks, yes—and they’re USDA prime it must be said, the highest quality of meat out there—but it also offers smoked meats: bacon slabs, sausages, maple cured pork back ribs.
We were even served a hefty crispy pata at a special dinner under the stars, and our non-pork-and-beef-eating companion handed a plate containing a thick, smoked Wood Plank Salmon cooked to perfection.
Putting up a chophouse within the confines of the luxury boutique resort is the brainchild of Amorita General Manager Leeds Trompeta. He noticed there are no solid options for Boholnons when it comes to steaks-and-meat-centered restaurants. True, they could have just opted to reopen their Italian dining joint Torchino, a victim of the pandemic, launched two months before the country went on its first lockdown—but why compete with the province’s Italian establishments, many of which are already pretty good?
Hence, the 60-seater The Lost Cow in the space Torchino used to occupy, easier for non-resort guests to get to, right around the reception/lobby area and the inviting pool from where people can take a peek of the Alona Beach action at any given time. The interior’s vibe is casual and unpretentious, with a few booths for diners who prefer a more cozy, intimate setup, and a glass-enclosed private dining space whose main wall is decked out with framed photographs of Americana—apparently places the house Cow is believed to have happily gotten lost in.
As guests of the resort (we were flown in by Cebu Pacific Air which flies to Bohol from Manila 39 times weekly, and from Davao four times weekly), we got to dine at the chophouse for two consecutive nights—never underestimate the allure of deliciously cooked meats. The first night inside the restaurant was devoted to steaks; the second evening in the garden reserved for smoked meats.
Our first night began with Chilling at the Cocktail Bar, a crab and prawn cold platter, a traditional way of starting a steak dinner—with something fresh and soothing in your mouth. This came with a trio of delicious sauces: a Smoked Salmon Remoulade, a Coconut Vinegar Mignonette, and an Uni Cocktail Sauce—this last one a nod to the locale, uni being abundant in Bohol waters.
We were also served the Bridges of Madison County, which is roasted bone marrow butter with a couple of beautifully baked buttermilk biscuits on the side—as irresistible as the romance Clint Eastwood offered Meryl Streep in the movie of the same name. Finally, we had the Matador, a USDA Prime Grade Ribeye which was tender, flavorful, and just perfectly cooked and seasoned. The garlic fried rice served on a small heavy skillet just says this restaurant has the Filipino diner’s satisfaction in mind and nothing else.
Evening 2 was a feast that began with cocktails at the garden and Mexican Chicken Cigars, or chicken and cheese taquito rolls served with a mango chipotle salsa. What followed was a medley of meat dishes each one as good as the next: the Southern Belle, a steak salad; the aforementioned pork knuckles, beer-brined and crispy; and the Rangers Roundup, a mixed meat platter composed of chicken, sausage, and bacon slabs, all smoked to juicy, glinting, flavor-packed results.
Villalon says the chophouse uses mahogany wood to smoke its meats. The meats are cooked for a couple of hours until it produces that wonderful aroma and nice fully smoked taste. “If you’re in America, the ideal wood would be apple, cherry, or hickory,” the chef tells ANCX, “but since we are in the Philippines and it’s so expensive to get those woods in, we tried a couple of local wood like sampaloc and santol, but it was mahogany that gave the meats that robust rounded flavor.”
Through the glass walls of the private dining space, we saw people cheering, clapping their hands, raising their glasses. Looks like Bohol’s locals and bakasyonistas have found a new place they can spend and celebrate in.
[For table reservations, contact Amorita Resort via +63917 726-4526. For room bookings, call 53183388 in Manila or email email@example.com]
[Cebu Pacific currently flies to Bohol from Manila 39 times weekly, and from Davao four times weekly. Visit www.cebupacificair.com to learn more about latest offerings, safety protocols, and travel reminders.]