The Quality Chop House retains its facade and very little else
It was one of the few times that I was honest with a waitress. When asked how I learnt about The Quality Chop House, I admitted that it was after reading Giles Coren's tweet - "Do not wait for my review of The Quality Chop House, just go. Now!" Not those exact words but that's the gist.
So there we were sitting at the bar area (not the dining room where set dinners of £35 were served. It so happened that I was there with YQ who was in town again. He's not the person who would succumb to buffets or cheap diners unlike yours truly who do not mind the occasional binge. At the frequency he's visiting London, I'd be having problems paying the rent even if we were going for only half decent meals. So we struck a compromise, no set meals, only ala carte.
Where was I? Yes, Quality Chop House. Wife and I were rather enthralled by it when we first dine there (on a countertop in the bar area then) in 2009. It was a simple meal, fish and chips and the bacon chop. Even then, I thought it was a bit subdued if you will. We returned soon after for a meal in the dining room. It was a forgettable experience at best though I can clearly recall that the waitresses looked bored and it was eerily quiet.
The next thing I know, Quality Chop House was no more and turned to selling meatballs. That's definitely not my thing and as far as I'm concerned, that stretch along Farringdon Road is a dead zone when it comes to dining.
Then comes Coren's tweet. I had to go down and check it out. Since YQ was in town, why not?
So what's new?
Two changes are immediately obvious when you step into The Quality House's bar area. First, the high counter tables and stools have been ripped out; small round bistro like tables and chairs take their place. Second, instead of the rather mature (and again, bored looking) waitresses whom I encountered earlier are no longer there, the entire staff are now what you could only described as sweet young things. If you think them as mere adornments, you'd be sorely mistaken. They were efficient, polite and were able to answer whatever questions we threw at them about the items on the menu. Could that be the real reason behind Coren's endorsement? Well, I wouldn't know.
Free flowing sparking and still water - at last, a restaurant that does not pay its staff wages by selling water
Unlike (I dare say) all the rest of London's restaurants that I've been to, both still and sparkling water at The Quality Chop House are free flow; bottles after bottles replaced those half emptied on our table without prompting. The menu is quintessential English with the likes of middlewhite brawn, faggot, ox cheeks and "game bird". Fans of St John and Medcalf would be right at home here.
The Longhorn faggot - unwanted meat reinvented
The Longhorn faggot (£11) was superbly done. A traditional Welsh and Midlands dish of mix meshing the forgotten cuts and offals, it was presented in a loose patty sitting nicely on a dollop of finely mashed potato layered on a perfectly caramelised onion. The faggot's slight bitter aftertaste was tempered by the onion. The sauce could be a bit less salty though.
Cornish mussels in pea based soup
The Cornish mussels (£8) were unremarkable in comparison, especially with the duvel mussels at Beard to Tail still fresh in my memory. The sauce was pea based, a first for me. Slices crusty white bread appeared instantly just when we thought the sauce would go to waste.
Rhubarb trifle - you got to dig deep to take in the entire flavour
The waitress solved our dessert dilemma by recommending the rhubarb trifle (£6.50). Truth to be told, rice pudding and blood orange jelly really aren't my thing. Softened rhubarb petioles floating on whipped cream laid on top of alcohol soaked sponge cake supported by a jelly foundation. Need I say more?
I'm not sure whether it was because of Coren's tweet but both the bar and the dining room at The Quality Chop House were packed by the time we left at 8pm that Saturday evening. Me? I'm just glad that I no longer have to stay within the confines of Exmouth Market when I'm in the area hunting for a meal the next time round.
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