If I answered you honestly, when you asked me what drew me to the recently re-opened and under new management Quality Chop House, I’d have to say it was the plates. I’m a sucker for a pretty plate and from the increasing number of photos of diners dinners filtering through on Twitter this place had plate porn aplenty. It also happens to be the place du jour, it’s got to the point where it’s a rare day that I don’t see a tweet in my timeline, a lunch or more languid dinner being praised, I’m told they made a concious decision not to implement any sort of big marketing campaign and it appears to have paid off! It quickly reached the top of my must visit list, it also rather more importantly ticked all of the boys restaurant boxes (meaty, simple, easy to get too, not too trendy…) and so we toddled off last Saturday.
Of course, as is often the case, I have an ulterior motive; it’s a short walk from The Zetter Townhouse. I LOVE this place, it’s the perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail and I’d imagine the ultimate first date destination, well I’d certainly be impressed! We perch at a high table with stools, sip our cocktails, nibble on dainty parmesan biscuits and drink in our eccentric surroundings. Everything here is meticulously well done, from the quirky and slightly creepy dressed up stuffed animals to faded opulent surroundings, well dressed waiters and bar staff to our bill that arrives tucked into an antique book. I start with a girly rose gimlet from the shortish, seasonal menu served in a beautiful tiny glass, this is followed by a fig French 75. Both are well made and a sheer delight to imbibe, I shall continue to make excuses to return.
We float towards The Quality Chop House on a cloud of booze, hoping with might that the world hasn’t yet been let into our little secret; you can book the dining room but I have my sights on the bar menu which remains free for walk in’s. I hadn’t realised how tiny the two rooms would be, the press photo I’ve seen repeatedly is shot from above the dining room and is misleading to say the least. A set, four course menu is offered in the room next to ours based on what is seasonal and available, a pretty good idea, keeps wastage low, and seems to suit the classic dining room feel backed up by the dark wooden original boothed seating. The boy remembers taking lunches here years ago when he worked at Hatton Garden and it was all very old school, a men in suits, elbows on tables, napkins tucked into shirt collars sort of place.
I do tend to err towards less formal or structured dining and so we opt on this occasion for a seat in the intimate bar that adjoins. The room is small, furnished with lots of dark wood and blackboards, as many tables as will fit and decorated with bottles of wine, the ceiling is high with bulbous lights dangling from it and it finishes at the end with a sort of serving hatch and pass, the whole thing dominated by a dynamic chequered floor. The result is elegant and relaxed, chic and thoroughly stylish. We’re shown to our table by a charming waitress whose bright disposition and energy renders me in comparison grumpy old crone, tucked away towards the back it’s cosy and allows a voyeuristic view of our fellow diners.
The food menu may be fairly straight forward but the wine one comes as a novella, filled with many pleasing words I don’t really understand, feeling a little out of my depth I throw £39 at a Pinot Noir that our waitress lavishes praise on making me flush with success, luckily it tastes as good as it sounds. Free water sits ready and waiting for us in bottles, we both go for the one labelled bubbles. Nice touch. They’ve retained claim to the original and resurrected name by offering a chop special each day with a glass of wine for a pretty reasonable £15. With a menu divided into nibbles, larger plates and dessert, we decide to order almost in three courses but all at once and let the kitchen bring out as and when, with our little round table we don’t really have much choice in the matter.
Lardo is a dish I find hard to resist and this is a beautiful example, ivory slithers are draped across a plate that is so much more than it’s simplistic parts; we fold slices onto accompanying bread and savour it’s delicate sweetness as it melts away to a mere whisper, a dinky dish of pickles makes a crunchy counterpoint. Beenleigh Blue is one of my favourite British cheeses, it can become quite astringent, but here it’s as beautiful as it comes, sweet fudginess with a hint of spice, we tumble crumbles onto crackers.
Next we’re brought the dish I’ve been dreaming of, a longhorn faggot, densely meaty with a rich livery tang sits on a bed of smooth mash swimming in a pool of gravy and is smothered with sweet beery onions, if I was to pick a solitary dish for a hearty wintery lunch, this would be it. A salad of pear, chicory and watercress is beautifully presented, wafer thin slices combine well in the mouth and hide intense little niblets of blue cheese. Longhorn fillet is a stunning piece of meat, cooked to perfection, every bite better than the last, this is paired with insane little fried bone marrow nuggets and a large wedge of creamy boulangere. A beetroot salad is the only disappointment mainly because I fail to detect even a hint of advertised goats curd.
Dessert can only be the rhubarb trifle which we both choose, other options are a blood orange jelly and a seville orange rice pudding. It’s as pretty as a picture; delicious layers nestle visibly in a clear glass which perches on another of those plates that I’m told the owners scoured many a charity shop for. It does make me wonder though why rhubard is served in such long batons as I struggle to speak with a whole one stuffed in my mouth, I’d prefer daintier bites please.
This is the sort of old fashioned, no nonsense hearty British fair that reminds me of the quite brilliant St John. I may have come for the crockery, but fell in love with the food and would return for that service and ambience.