I’ll be honest. I REALLY do not get British cuisine. It’s not mouth numbingly addictive like Hunan cuisine; it’s not fresh and herby like Italian cuisine and it lacks the umaminess of Japanese cuisine.
So, when my auntie from the US came to visit and asked me to organise a meal in a British restaurant of my choice, I felt pretty lost (I was banking on her choosing Indian so that I could go back to The Regency!)
Googling/reviewing on the Twittersphere identified a few big names: St Johns, Berners Tavern, Dean Street Townhouse, Social Eating House….the list was surprisingly huge! Having narrowed it down by budget and removing the ones she had been to before, I was left with a few restaurants with fairly average looking menus…..
….Until I got reminded about The Quality Chop House (TQCH) in Farringdon.
TQCH has been through a few iterations in its life: it was previously a working man’s chop house, became “Meatballs” for two years before finally becoming the beauty that it is today.
Now, TQCH is not cheap by any means and I could not go every week. However, since the dinner, I am now a convert to British cuisine.
Let me begin by talking about the wine. TQCH is a wealthy wine lovers heaven, with a wine list that easily surpasses most restaurants in London. Before I went to the dinner, I was recommended to try the 1948 Château Sisqueille ‘Rivesaltes, a sweet after dinner wine. At £9 for 50ml, this was at the upper end of affordability for me. However, it was DIVINE. Every sip was silk and citrusy, ending with a subtle toffee aftertaste. I could drink this by the bottle!
And then the real test: the food. As we were a big group (7), we ordered most things on the menu and shared (sharing is, after all, caring).
Bread (free, delicious, ask for more!)
Charcuterie plate (Schiena/ Chorizo/ Coppa/ Nduja/ Fegato/ Lardo di Colonnata . The Ndjua and Lardo was great…the others weren’t very memorable. £15)
Monkfish liver, capers, lemon and watercress (creamy, no bitterness and complimented well by the capers and watercress. £7.50)
Oxtail and Bone marrow mash (Marrow taste was a bit weak. Lovely gravy, but a bit one dimensional. £13.50)
Grouse with all the trimmings (Very gamey, very in season, couldn’t eat a whole one. £26)
Blackface lamb, purple broccoli, anchovy breadcrumbs (Perfectly cooked lamb. Not mind-blowing, but great comfort food for those wintery British evenings. £17.50)
Fried dauphinoise potatoes (THE MUST ORDER DISH. Thinly sliced potatoes that have been buttered, seasoned heavily and fried for extra crispness. Not good for the heart, but oh so good for the soul. The next time I go to TQCH I will be ordering two plates of this for myself)
Given that TQCH is a butchers, it makes sense to order beef/lamb/pork/game from the menu. The monkfish my cousin had was described as “ok”.
Full to bursting, we soldiered on for dessert (when you have desserts with names such as “sugared plums with crème fraiche sorbet”, “blackberry frangipane tart with ivy house cream” and “deconstructed treacle tart”, it is hard to say no!)
The frangipane was a bit disappointing, but the sugared plums were very very addictive.
The bill wasn’t cheap, coming in at £50+ a head , but we didn’t need to order so much food/wine (it was a Wednesday after all!). Realistically, £35 would feed and water you well!
Service was reliable, unobtrusive and knowledgeable.
TQCH, I will be back (if only to stuff my face with multiple plates of the dauphinoise!)