The Quality Chop House: Where Industry Folk Go To When They Dine Out
Tell another chef that you’ve just visited The Quality Chop House and had a smashing good time, and with immediate effect, you’ve bridged the gap. You’re in the know—entered the inner circle, and you might even get an extra Scotch egg or hand-raised Pork Pie stashed away in your complimentary door gift (Thank you Chef Calum Franklin of the Holborn Dining Room! But that’s a serendipitous encounter best saved for another story). With restauranteurs and chefs no longer chained to their own kitchens, professional curiosity and the joie de vivre of off-day dining have paved the way for a list of their favourite hangouts. Modern British Restaurant, The Quality Chop House seems to be on the lips of industry players, and for starters, that’s always a good sign of things to come.
Swing pass the wooden pews in the old dining room designed for ‘working men’ and head over to the newly converted wine bar turn cafe. Years of evolution, no thanks to our devotion to hedonism have rendered these benches unsuitable for lounging comfortably in. We’re extremely grateful for this recent addition, especially after that bowl of golden brown confit potatoes that warranted mandatory waistband adjustment.
Roll the dice with your wine selection, or leave the choice in the hands of the in-house sommelier. Lunch should be a straightforward affair, and it could use the benefit of some wine, of which its connecting food grocer has well-stocked shelves of supplies. Lunch is a minimum of 2 courses and the breezy staff don’t hard sell the 3-course option—there is a definite level of chunkiness about The Quality Chop House’s food.
We start with ‘snacks’ of Mutton Croquettes, two innocent morsels that have been deep-fried into discipline are split open to reveal a creamy rillette-like interior. The thick and creamy mix, golden crunch and a bright spot of mint mayonnaise, does make this dish hard to forget.
The Chicken Liver Parfait strewed with Australian black truffle and topped with a fashionable cap of chicharrón is heartier than a mere snack, but harbours no intention of being a main. The dish is akin to a steamy sensual tango dance of aerated crunch, luxurious cold cream and musky earthy notes from wisps of shaved truffle. You would be a fool not to pounce on this item if you see it on the daily refreshed menus.
The Salt and Pepper Sprats throws out throngs of British charm. For the lightly floured and fried silver fish, there’s no hiding the winning approach of the establishment—never compromise quality for quantity, and the stack of small fish is testament to that, ticking both boxes. My Tamworth Pork Terrine with thwacks of heat from Kernel mustard is truly good. You might want to order a side of rye sourdough with raw butter to lap it up with. There’s no reason to deny oneself of bread, as the restaurant’s version is simply excellent.
Between sips of velvety Château La Roche de Broue 2019 Bordeaux Supérieur, the dining room fills up with clients, most of them distinctly non-business foodies partial to a spot of day-time drinking. Service is good-humoured, well-timed and can’t be faulted. There is a kind of old-school nonchalance to it, the sort that doesn’t try too hard, yet feels personable at the same time. Mains arrive in a perfect two-step, the 375 grammes behemoth of a Belted Galloway Sirloin for my dining companion and the Middle White Chop for me. Then comes a shallow dish of confit potatoes, each perfect golden stack pouting for a close-up with browned crisp ridges. You observe a moment of silence to allow your lascivious gaze to transmute into a food memory. It’s brilliant and you use this wicked snackage to sop up the glossy jus off your pork chop dish. The emblematic dish at The Quality Chop House may have been born out of necessity to campaign against the usual fried spud, but its ‘pain in the arse’ preparation is worth noting. The end result is just sublime.
Not bearing so much as any garnish, the proteins had hard sears and perfect temperatures to prove the kitchen’s mettle. Considered a rare breed, the Middle White is a breed of domestic pig native to the United Kingdom, and the resulting chops are treated very well here. A similar treatment is given to the Galloway Sirloin, there’s magic in each slice carved from the mammoth chunk. And this bewitchment extends till the last morsel is dredged through the jewelled-hued jus. It is no miracle really that The Quality Chop House lives up to its meaty reputation.
The menu lists a lot of things which would encourage me to go back: in particular, the sweet Devon crab with sweetcorn humid and the Swaledale Barnsley chop. For the bumpkin in me, who’s not often treated to the old world elegance of bistro dining, this is a treat that I’ll rave about for a long time to come.
88-94 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 3EA, UK, +44 20 7278 1452