Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Quality Chop House

Giles Coren tweeted about The Quality Chop House a few weeks ago, and on a whim, I decided to book - I'd been intrigued about it since it had opened it and I hadn't heard a bad thing about it. Then a few weeks later, he wrote an excellent review.

I liked The Quality Chop House,. but I didn't love all of the food. But the experience I had made up for any tiny hiccups, because I did generally have a great time and the food was mostly good. The great thing about it is that it's not trying to be trendy in its chintzy surroundings or trying to do something that is totally wacky or different with weird flavour combinations. It's like going to dinner at your friend's mother's house and being served up 'hearty' food upon mismatched crockery she's spent a couple of years collecting from antique shops (a trend, which by the way, is reaching saturation point). But it's difficult to criticise the wobbly pews and mismatched crockery because that's the kind of thing they're going for. That aside, I admire the traditional approach they're taking. And they're doing it very well (though with Nicholas Lander as the father of one of the owners, it's difficult imagine them going wrong. Aside from not calling it L'Escargot #2).

Smoked ox heart
In the 15 minutes I waited for my friend, I was given house still and sparkling water (sparkling rather tritely named 'bubbles'), and trying not to over-balance on the slightly wobbly pew I was sitting on. They did make me feel very welcome, though and placated my hasty apologies for the delay, assuring me they didn't need the table back (which, on booking, I was told they would.

Fried crab balls
The house white was £20, and nice and easy to drink. There are a lot of wines under £30 if you want something a bit more pricey, though. The service is so friendly and helpful I think it deserves a special mention. The pews (seating four people) make it difficult to serve, so I'm incredibly glad that the couple supposed to be sitting next to us didn't turn up in the end.

They serve one tasting menu of four courses (I use the word 'tasting' loosely, because it's a little more hearty than tastes), which change daily, for £35. That's the only menu they serve there.

Blood orange with meringue (WHAT  a plate)
On the day I went, the first course (served as sharing plates, presumably to prevent having an extra course) were deep fried crab balls, little bites of meaty goodness which were accompanied with lemon and mayonnaise, and smoked ox hearts - chewy in a very pleasant way, in that I wanted to savour them for as long as possible. They proved to be a little too chewy for my friend, who had to spit her last piece into her napkin. Next up was a little piece of cod, which was a nice little neutraliser between courses, but not particularly memorable. 

The main event was two pieces longhorn beef with parsnips and potatoes, which was reminiscent of something my mum would make, which I liked - good, solid food. No quirks here. What I didn't like was how chewy and fatty it was - it was just too much hard work and too many bits to avoid. The flavours were great, but I just didn't love it. The meringue with blood orange was too much overly-chewy meringue and not enough delicious blood orange (which is of course everywhere at the moment).

All in all, I had a nice time, but it was just that: nice. Perhaps for £100 for 2 I would have liked to be wowed a tad more, but it is a charming place and it's not trying to be 'different' or extreme, it's just serving good, solid food. And I would go back.

The Quality Chop House 
94 Farringdon Road, London, EC1 3EA

The Quality Chop House on Urbanspoon Square Meal

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