The Quality Chop House (QCH) is one of those institutions that could have slipped away unnoticed. Though its been around since 1869, it had fallen on variable times in recent years.
There was a minor resurgence in the 90’s with the Guardian down the road, and whose journos came to hold affection for its utilitarian aesthetic. Things ticked by like that until the Guardian moved on to sexier premises in Kings X. A short spell as a meatball joint, then preceded the current incarnation, to little fanfare.
Happily for the QCH, along came Will Lander and Josie Stead (who is ex Heston’s Dinner) and to the delight of many they are now steering the place on a safer path. What’s abundantly clear, is that they already have a minor hit on their hands.
They take reservations in the dining room only. There it’s a set, 4 course, daily changing menu. If that’s not your bag, then maybe take a look next door at the bar. It’s equally as relaxed, all low lighting, bistro chairs and marble tables, and first come first served.
Which is where I found Hoops nursing a very fine sherry on a miserable night… more of him in a minute.
The food is very much in the St John’s vein, namely quality ingredients, done simply and without pretension. Served on a variety of ‘old skool’ patterned plates, how could you not be won over?
A perfect sweet scallop with a buttery parsley crust, in hindsight, probably needed a partner. Crab cakes were light full of crab with a good mayonnaise, but they didn’t quite sing for me next to that scallop.
A good tranche of terrine on the second visit hit the spot but I wasn’t sure of its texture – too firm and perhaps too pink for some
The Longhorn beef mince on dripping toast is quickly becoming something of a signature and was delicious, deeply flavoured beef on a hearty chewy trencher. Hoops pronounced it “MERRURRGHHHH” a sound of pleasure familiar to those frequenting some of St James finer Clubs. Suffice to say he liked it … very much. “get stuck into that” I was told MERRRUUGHHHH indeed. Yes another garbage picture, trust me it is brooding in there somewhere.
There is a choice of chop of the day. The middlewhite pork came with a golden crust and just a touch pink, so in short, perfect. It was a seriously good piece of meat. The sides of spinach and potato were more so-so and a little underwhelming. Frankly though who cares when you get a pork chop that good.
Yes the new camera is coming soon in the meantime – here’s a better one!
Desserts were good. Though perhaps not knockout. A very correct almond and orange tart ticked the boxes. Whilst I loved the ‘marseillette’ rice pudding with its candied Seville orange; it’s not quite the rice pudding at La Régalade in Paris. Personally I think they should take it all the way and serve it skin and all – which in its own way would be in keeping with this place; but maybe that’s just me?
The wine list is a knockout – well frankly it ought to be. Will Landers mum has one of the world’s foremost palates so you expect some of that to have rubbed off on Jnr.
For those with an aversion to extensive wine lists allow yourself as we did to be steered on the wine choices. Would I have opted for a glass of savagnin? Probably not, but the charming Rosie insisted and I’m glad she did. It was something of a revelation. So much so I spent all of the next day trying to track down Julien Labets Fleur de Savagnin from the Jura – and yes I’ll save you the trouble. Bristol’s Vine Trail, who specialise in sourcing wines directly from small french domaines, have it or you could just buy a bottle from the QCH themselves, since most bottles are available for offsales. Well worth a punt for something very special and different.
The Savagnin was just one of a number of hits from the evening and any wine lover could get happily lost in this list. Real thought has gone into it. The list we were told will be an evolving beast as new gems are found. The plan is not to buy vast amounts of individual wines. In some cases there may be only one or 2 bottles of certain wines and once its gone its gone. There is also a ‘collectors’ section. Drawn from the cellars of what we can only assume to be some serious wine buffs or collectors. Its like that girl (or boy) your mother told you to stay away from, utterly dangerous and utterly tempting.
So not quite sure why it took me so long to visit but am glad I did, and I’ll definitely be back. A sip of 1944 Rivesaltes to finish ? Oh yes… We were by this point completely won over.
So go be charmed, let serendipity take its course and have your faith restored that good things really do happen – this is one of them.
Around £50 a head – though quite possibly more if you get properly involved in that wine list!
Quality Chop House, 92-94 Farringdon Road. London.