28 May 2013
The Quality Chop House has just got one of the highest ever scores in 11 years of the life of our informal Dinner Club. OK, sometimes the scores get “bigged up” by whoever booked the place and this time 2 (out of 4) of us claimed it for our own. And OK we may have been euphoric at being fully quorate for the first time ever with all 4 founding members plus all 4 (now married) partners. But this characterful place does deserve its praise. Be aware that it's a set menu and changes daily, so there's little choice, but don't let that put you off. We had a 5-course menu of starters, fish, meat, cheese, and dessert, starting with radishes as amuse bouches. Yes, radishes! Radical, rustic, tasty and an indicator of things to come. The 2 main events came served up on enormous platters to share: first 2 whole white fish, simply presented (a small sharp sauce on the side), the focus on the clean, fresh, flakey flesh; followed by 2 ginormous bones with hunks of fat, chunky steak hanging off them, cooked rare and melt in the mouth spectacular. Don't expect chops but do expect good ingredients which shine through simple, sensitive cooking. There's no way 8 would have fitted round a table downstairs which is a relief as seats look like old church pews, designed to remind of your sins and make you repent; so we were in the private room upstairs, furnished in fairly typical generic retro fashion, with food served up on plates picked up at a car boot sale no doubt, and which comes with a small private bathroom complete with a rather incongruous shower. Service was perfect: easy marks for in-depth explanations of the food and willingly tweaking the menu for dietary requirements but bonus points for touches like clocking the pregnant one and offering some freshly made elderflower cordial without actually asking “are you pregnant?”. At £75 a head (£50 for our menu, £35 I think for the 3-courses offered downstairs, plus booze and service), it was bloody good value for something that scored 9.5 on food, service and what we embarrassingly still rate as “coolness”.