The Quality Chop House is a restaurant and wine bar round the corner from Exmouth Market. It’s been around for well over a hundred years and after various changes of management and a brief stint as an unsuccessful meatball restaurant it’s now back in its original guise – thank God!
There’s two options when dining here; the wine bar which offers a daily changing a la carte menu or the dining room, which in the evening offers a set menu for £35. We were seated in the latter, which is Grade ll listed I’ll have you know. I can totally see why as it’s beautiful; the wooden booth seats topped with long cushions might not be the most comfortable place to perch but they certainly were gorgeous. It was a bit like being at church – and we all know how comfortable that is!
A mini white loaf which looked quite charming got things off to an enjoyable start. It was served alongside some seriously salty butter which I loved – why can’t everywhere serve salty butter?!
The set menu consisted of four mini starters which were brought out at a steady pace for the both of us to share. The venison tartare was first and the meat had a reassuring shade of dark ruby red. The cresting yolk burst, oozing sauce to bind the whole thing together. Heavenly.
Next was the crab rarebit which needed a good squeeze of the lemon provided to cut through its richness. It was a souped up crab pate on toast and it wasn’t for the faint hearted as it was very fishy. I liked it though!
Broccoli, boquerones and almonds soon followed. It was incredibly simple but the combination of flavours was a wholly enjoyable one. If like me you didn’t know, boquerones are basically fresh anchovies and here they provided plenty of salty flavour.
The final starter was pork belly with mushrooms and mushroom parfait which was out of this world. The small pork belly cubes were cooked perfectly with soft fatty flesh and a crunchy top. The mushroom parfait was divine and the perfect companion for the rich pork.
The main course was Denham lamb, fennel, beetroot, artichoke and January king cabbage. The lamb looked utterly gorgeous; perfectly pink with a thick layer of fat on the top which practically melted on my tongue. The quality of the lamb was sublime too. As my friend wasn’t that keen on lamb they kindly replaced his for a slice of Middlewhite pork and believe me when I say, it was the best bit of pork I’ve ever tasted.The person who cooked these dishes seriously knows how to cook meat!
For those in the know (as they weren’t on the menu), you can order a side of deep fried dauphinois that tasted as delicious (and unhealthy) as they sound. They’re cooked in beef dripping no less. Pure indulgence of the very best kind.
There’s a strong emphasis on the wine list at The Quality Chop House and they often open rare and expensive bottles to serve by the glass (or half glass) meaning you can try something you might not normally. Knowing absolutely zero about wine I let my friend do the choosing and to accompany our pudding he ordered half a glass of the Rivesaltes, Chateau Sisquielle (£8 a glass) which was over sixty years old – that’s good right?! It tasted utterly divine I’ll tell you that much.
Dessert was poached pear, rum raisins and almonds which had a rustic presentation. The raisins had a REALLY strong rum kick which was great, the little almond biscuit added texture and the pear was soft and sweet.
As we paid our bill we were treated to some chocolate covered honeycombe – I could have eaten hundreds of these, I loved them.
I really liked our meal at The Quality Chop House and I’d definitely see myself going back. If I had the option though, I’d choose to sit in the other room next time and order from the a la carte as they had some cracking sounding dishes on there. Minced venison on fried bread? Yes please!