Kenny Mills Expands His Smoky Empire with Chop House Steak and Seafood in Pantego

Chef Kenny Mills knows a thing or two about running a steakhouse. His resume includes The Capitol Grille, Sullivan's and Dallas Chop House. But a few years ago, Mills grew tired of the Dallas scene and took a chance on a burger joint in a pretty nondescript strip mall in central Arlington. He didn't use a lot of fancy signs or marketing to advertise his new restaurant; he simply relied on a vent hood over his mesquite-fired grill. The smoke that wafted through it and filled the noses of unsuspecting hungry souls is intoxicating.

Shortly after Mills opened Chop House Burgers, word and smell started to spread that there was a real burger in central Arlington. Then, Guy Fieri and his crew of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives showed up. Since then, the lines have been out the door. Earlier this year, Mills opened a second Chop House Burgers in Mansfield.

Now with his stamp firmly implanted on the previously slightly culinary deprived folks of central Arlington, Mills has opened Chop House Steak and Seafood (2230 W. Park Row) in the bustling town of Pantego, which has a population of about 2,300 and is completely surrounded by Arlington and Dalworthington Gardens. (Many of you may know it as a speed trap. Heed that warning.) This new restaurant is just a mile down from the Chop House Burgers on Park Row.

And once again, there's that tempest vent that disperses meat-and-fire-scented smoke to the surrounding neighborhood. It's surprising there aren't more wrecks on Park Row.

Mills has brought in an impressive team to keep things humming at this steakhouse since his days are spread a little thinner now that he has three spots to check on. He's hired two chefs, a pastry chef, general manager and a bartender, all of whom have worked for him at his previous spots.

This is a sort of throw back steakhouse. Classic cocktails, a reinvention of the salad bar (vegetarians will feast here) and in-house from-scratch pastries round out the menu. Overhead music from "outlaw country music movement" leans strongly towards Johnny Cash and helps set the mood.

The steak menu includes 8- and 10-ounce filets ($24 and $29, respectively), a bone in KC strip, NY strip, a veal chop, a cowboy cut rib eye and a porterhouse. The latter two are the most expensive items on the menu at $30 (18 and 22 ounces, respectively).

But, as much of a throwback, wagon wheel, humble steakhouse as one might try to portray, there are still the dishes that suggest otherwise. Starters that include tuna towers, sweetbreads, roasted bone marrow, lengua will expand the limits of restaurant fare in the area (thankfully). There are also plates of swordfish, salmon and pan-seared sushi grade tuna steaks.

The full bar that extends down one side of the restaurant plays with some classics like the Old Fashion Foresome, French 75 NOLA-style, a Bellini, and a Hemingway. Some house-made cocktails include a Mexican Blackbird and a Bourbon Street Bloody.

Chop House Steak & Seafood has a $49.99 dinner for two Monday through Wednesdays. And on Friday and Saturday the prime rib dinner comes with a steak, baked potato and salad bar for $25.

This Sunday, Chop House is taking over the parking lot at their new spot in Pantego to hold a fundraiser for the town of West. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. all proceeds will go to help the people of West. So, just to be clear, this is burgers at the new steakhouse which is at 2230 W. Park Row in Pantego.

Either way, check them out soon.

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