Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Quality Chop House, Farringdon

The Quality Chop House on Farringdon Road is not, technically, new. There has been a restaurant in that same building with the same name for the majority of time since 1869, serving - as the moniker suggests - no-nonsense grilled meats and the like. There was, in the more recent past, an attempt to sell self-consciously trendy meatball sliders (God help us) which fortunately quickly moved to Westfield where it belonged, but the current owners have restored sanity as well as the attractive interior, and written a menu that harks back to its roots.

Like any such restaurant in London in 2013, though, what constitutes "British" food is up for somewhat liberal interpretation. The menu has plenty of St John-alike buzzwords like Middlewhite pork and the Longhorn beef that Hawksmoor and the Ginger Pig have made famous, but also sells fancy foreign snacks like charcuterie and lardo, and the Denham lamb comes with "confit shallots". Well la-di-da.

It's all good though. Pig scratchings would have been even better with an apple sauce dip, but it was after all just something to soak up a bottle of cava (an Easter treat, but we also needed something to deaden the pain of the unbelievably uncomfortable seats) and each had a nice balance between crunchy and chewy.

A crabcake was perhaps a bit light on the good stuff for £7.50 but was nicely seasoned and had a good crunchy crust. Look how nice the tableware is too.

Lamb ribs had been coated in mint sauce rather than as a separate dip, but once you got over the mess (finger bowls were provided) you realised the lamb had a great flavour and were perfectly cooked to just pink. And plenty of them.

Longhorn mince on dripping toast was everything it promised to be; a straightforward but deeply satisfying plate of loose meat on a thick slab of sourdough made soggy with cooking juices. A bit more toast and a slightly less mountainous helping of beef may have made a more balanced dish overall but I'd certainly rather have too much beef than too little, and £12.50 is a good price for a main course.

There was no room to pick fault with these lamb sweetbreads though. Tender little nuggets of golden brown, nestled in a tasteful arrangement of crunchy raddish and crispy bacon, they were dressed in one of those mind-bendingly rich demi-glace sauces that you wish you could just go away and drown in. Sauces like this are the reason I eat out; to make them yourself would take days, cost a fortune due to the lack of economies of scale, and you'd probably mess it up anyway. Well, I would.

By this time another bottle of Bordeaux had bumped the bill up past the average spend here for two people for lunch, but even so, alongside the utterly charming service (Josie, ex- of Heston Blumenthal's Dinner so there's a pedigree for you) it still seemed like a very reasonable total. And once we'd wobbled off into a taxi we both agreed we'd definitely be back, which in the end tells you all you need to know. I wasn't completely floored by Quality Chop House, it is after all just a solid British eatery serving familiar dishes for not very much money, but it slots so happily into the London dining scene it's like it's been here for the best part of 150 years. Which of course, in many ways, it has.


The Quality Chop House on Urbanspoon


The Shed said...

Left knowing that I'll go back, which is my main test of a restaurant.

Can't believe the little Air Street rolls didn't get a wave :-)

Chris Pople said...

Shed: I crowbarred in a mention of Ginger Pig, what more do you want? :P

Going With My Gut said...

Ooh! Going tonight for the first time. Looking forward to it. Want to pitch the mince longhorn on toast against St John B&W's mince Dexter on toast.


The Shed said...

I noticed, I noticed, bravo!

Hollow Legs said...

much mention has been made of the uncomfortable seats but I guess as they are listed it's hard to do much about. The seats in the wine bar are fine, though perhaps I have a more amply padded backside than you.

Shame you didn't try any of the seafood; they were my favourite dishes when I went.

Hollow Legs said...

whoops - I meant more of the seafood. I see you, Mr Crabcake.

jhm said...

"it is after all just a solid British eatery serving familiar dishes for not very much money"

... and the wine!

Caroline said...

I went here when it was the meatball place, thought it was pretty decent. Still remember vividly the sore bumness.

Chris Pople said...

Lizzie: The seats in the wine bar did look more normal, that's true.

jhm: Yes we spent a lot on wine but I still think the markups on that are pretty reasonable (not that I'm an expert)

Caroline: They've attempted to improve the situation slightly by strapping on these church pew-style long cushions, but it doesn't really help that much. You could still see everyone was fidgeting around.

jhm said...

Sorry, I wasn't clear in my above comment. I meant that apart from being "a solid British eatery serving familiar dishes for not very much money", the wines on offer are one of the selling points of the place.

Even someone really ignorant about wine like me (I just down anything and everything) can tell that it's special to have (for example) the following wines by the glass - 1944 Rivesaltes, (last week) Margaux etc. The wine list is interesting and reasonably priced too. All this is not so surprising of course given that one of the co-owners is the son of the FT's wine critic; and the other co-owner is the niece of the owner of a well known wholesale fine wine merchant:


SarahC said...

So glad you finally went and could expunge the memory of Master and Servant ...

Leigh said...

Nice to see the mint on lamb ribs; getting a little bored of our BBQ obsession of late. Will check this place out next time I'm down. And confir shallots rock!