Quality Chop House: eat your heart out

mackerel

It’s lovely when you discover a jewel, sat right under your nose. I’d somehow missed the fanfare of the Quality Chop House relaunch late last year. It’s actually on my way to the office, so although I’d noticed the facade, I had assumed it was a traditional British diner, on a par with a fish fryer or an eel jellier. One spring afternoon I saw a tweet about their one remaining slice of tart. The ensuing squabble amongst EC1 food bloggers told me there was something special about this place. I decided I had to investigate.

We arrived and my two Australian visitors were already seated in the gorgeous Victorian wood lined surrounds. We spread out a little: There were only three of us so and as we were placed in a big booth we were quite comfortable. The interior is speckled with loads of antiques including a giant wine cooler icebox that I would quite like at home. It reeked of very nice.

The set menu soon began to arrive. First, an nibble: a magnificent anchovy dip, served with radish. The dip was a delightful debut, bitey, salty and meaty.

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The radish was necessary, mainly in that it scooped up the dip. As did my index finger, in order to prevent anything being sent back to the kitchen.

Now the chop house changes it’s menu regularly, as in daily. So expect a different spread. But I was impressed with the balance between meat and veg. I do like a vegetable, you see. The trio of appetisers included some veg, prepared in a most interesting way. First up, a new twist on that well trodden culinary combination: beetroot and goat’s cheese.

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Served in crisp, tart chicory, the goats curd was almost a foam and the beetroot dip thick and dense. A powerful combination.

Now I have a Brazilian brother-in-law, so heart and liver appears at almost every gathering. I’d not for some time had seared ox heart though. Such an incredibly present and potent meat. I want to say “chunk of nugget-ey flavour” but that would be rather crass, no?

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Seared, present and… correct. What more needs to be done? Sea salt, yes please.

The final of the trio, a garlic head, just roasted with toast. It was a delicate flavour, creamy – not particularly pungent. It was interesting, not astounding.

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No, not brain. that’s a whole slow cooked, caramelised garlic.

I liked the direction things were going so far.

But wait.

mackerel

This delicious mackerel , crusted with a seasoned crumb and served on a tomato salad.

The meaty punch of the mackerel cut through the flavours of the earlier starters, followed up triumphantly with the sublime zing of the tomato salad. So often heritage tomatoes are served up complacently, relying on the novelty of their visual appearance. Not so here.

As if that wasn’t enough to awaken our hunger, we spied one of the main course’s on it’s way to another table. Enjoyment of food is as much about sight, smell and an anticipatory atmosphere as flavour, right? Well we were primed, on all fronts.

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I loved the large platter service. The granny in me got to dish up food for friends. What more could one ask for?

Well, how about succulently roasted pork loin, delicious crackling and a mash so creamy you could make it into a mess.

More? How about trying these on for sides.

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Never have I experienced deep fried dauphinoise. Seems more original than a cronut, to me. And with a little aioli if there wasn’t already enough fat. Crunchy.

About this point in the meal we sat back. I’d imagine, if eating mindfully, it was time to stop. A small desert and a peppermint tea and I would have been done. But the two boys I was with, both advocates of a paleo-style eating, rationalised that more main (meat) was better than dessert.

Cheekily we put in a request. The waitress went to enquire. Apparently the mood of the chef would determine whether more would be provided, quite right, I say.

I was very impressed with this man.

I was very impressed with this man. An enviable position.

More? Well it seems the chef was indeed in a good mood. Out came another selection of pork, with some of that top notch gravy.

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So we tucked in. Then, not to miss out, we tucked into dessert too. Why wouldn’t you?

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A smashing dessert.

I was impressed with the detail of the dessert. A strawberry sorbet, topped with a refreshing ice. Some further berry in the form of compote. Then of course there was a honeycombed hazelnut number. It all came together in a sweet, palette cleansing manner. Did I mention a scrape of vanilla creme? Very special.

Luckily, I’ve recently had the chance to sample seriously good, seriously foraged, seriously well sourced and seriously authentic British food. The recent highlight being River Cottage – tables dressed with wildflowers, perfectly prepared well reared meat and produce. A casual elegance. And, to my delight, Quality Chop house is very much of this ilk. I wont walk past again without being tempted in. At least now, I know what the fuss is about.

More reviews for London EC1

 

Foodstinct ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ (4)
Non-meat options n/a Can’t say – they do have a vegetarian set menu option which I didn’t try, but I suspect it’s a meaty focus
Service ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ (4)
Atmosphere ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ (4)

The Quality Chop HouseFarringdon
92-94 Farringdon Rd
London EC1R 3EA
020 7278 1452
Reviewer: Jared
June 7, 2013
The Quality Chop House on Urbanspoon Square Meal

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