Saturday, 25 April 2015

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Quality Chop House


When you're my age the opportunities to be taken out for a parental dinner are few and far between, unless it's your birthday. Steve's parents took us out for dinner as a birthday treat a few weekends ago, having been a local residence for many years but never managing to visit, Steve suggested The Quality Chop House in Exmouth Market.

Gracing the streets of Farringdon since 1869 The Quality Chop House is a quality dinning room, butchers, and wine bar so I was excited to see what the menu had to offer.


I'm not fussy but I'm not a huge fan of terrine or blue cheese which meant there was only one starter that took my fancy, the brisket. The meat was incredibly intense in flavour, I could smell the plate coming long before it was placed in front of me. I don't think I've ever experienced anything so meaty before but hats off to the chef as this tasted sublime. The beef melted in the mouth and the potatoes were perfectly al dente. 

The chicken livers and the rabbit rillettes special were also ordered and I've been told both were lovely.



I was torn between the stuffed chicken leg and wood pigeon special and due to the seasonality, I went for the latter. The pigeon was lovely, cooked perfect rare with a crispy skin this was a lovely piece of meat, however I grew tiresome pretty quickly as I tried to carve it. I don't have a problem with meat on the bone but sometimes I just can't be bothered to faff around with it. That being said, the hassle involved with trying to eat this meal was certainly worth it.


The pollock with brown butter was lovely and fresh and came with a little pan of extremely creamy mash potato.


Look how wonderfully rare that roast beef looks. The ploughman's was another great dish.


The star of the show was definitely the minced beef and dripping. Intense rich, meat flavours made this an incredibly delicious and indulgent dish.



The potato confit were heavenly and some of the best I've had to date, completely crispy on the outside and perfectly soft inside. Wonderful.



Again, only one thing stood out for me on the dessert menu, the brownie ice cream. What may sound like a boring option was a delightful ice cream filled with small, chewy pieces of brownie without being overpowering chocolatey. The shortbread biscuit was crumbly and buttery, perfect.


Vanilla ice cream, nice.


Steve went for the lemon curd, a light and refreshing end to an otherwise heavy meal, perfect.


The rhubarb and frangipane tart may not be too my liking but  Steve's dad enjoyed it very much.

The Quality Chop House is a very nice restaurant with a really old school English vibe. The dark interior has an old fashioned feel but not dated. It worth mentioning the terribly uncomfortable seats in the dinning room but because this property is listed I don't think they can be changed, the wine bar has more comfortably seats so don't be put off. I'd definitely return one day as the menu is far from ordinary, showcasing inventive ways meat and game can be cooked. If you're local and you've never been I recommend booking a table now.

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Jose's Tapas Bar



Tapas, the epitome of sharing food, I love it. Steve and I had visited Jose's Tapas Bar once before and he requested we return for his birthday lunch last week, it wasn't difficult to convince me as the food is excellent.

Going for weekday lunch is the way forward, we avoided queueing and were able to sit at the bar by the tiny open kitchen, my favourite spot. The two black boards detail the classics and daily specials. We ordered a few dishes at the time and happily slurped our bottle of house white wine for a couple of hours, a wonderful afternoon it was.



The jamon iberico is heavenly, I always enjoy watching the chef slice it at the bar. The meat is rich in flavour and one plate on this cured ham is not enough, I could have eaten so much more.


You can always find croquetas on the menu at Jose's but the fillings change on a daily basis depending what ingredients are available. We had a spicy black pudding interior which was sublime, cheesy and a hint of spice but not overpowering, absolutely heavenly. With only 5 croquets per portion you'll be fighting over who gets the last one!


Don't be fooled by a simple portion of tomato bread (pan con tomate) because this crusty bread with tomato and extra virgin olive oil spread is perfection.


The spinach and aubergine tortilla was fantastic and packed full of perfectly al dente vegetables.


Some of the best patatas bravas I've had. Perfectly crispy with a generous scoop of home made tomato sauce and aioli. Despite it being a plate of potatoes this is one of my favourite dishes!


The battered hake was lovely but probably my least favourite plate, not because it didn't take nice (it was lovely) but because it was quite a subtle flavour compared to everything else we were eating.


Delicious clams.


The chorizo iberico was very pungent and packed a lot of flavour. I personally preferred the less intense jamon iberico but this was still a tasty plate.


Our final savoury plate was the pisto with a fried egg with is a tomato sauce packed full of vegetables, much alike ratatouille. Lovely and fresh tasty with lots of texture from the veg and of course a perfectly soft fried egg, wonderful.


For dessert we went for the crema catalana, with a perfectly crisp top that's always fun to break and a rich, vanilla set custard underneath this was the cherry on the cake to finish a marvellous lunch.

I love Jose's, the tapas is heavenly and the wine list is impressive. The restaurant is tiny and always busy so it pays to get there early. With veterans standing around drinking Spanish wine it's more like a bar that serves food, bloody excellent food. I can't wait to return!

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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

BURGER REVIEW: Byron's Byronissimo


Byron have a new special and it's really delicious. The Byronissimo is available until 25th May and comprises a 6oz beef burger with pancetta, Fontina cheese, tomato relish, pickled red onion, tomato, shredded iceberg and mayonnaise for £9.95.

As a member of the Byron Burger Club I often get the chance to win tickets for free burgers and last Monday I was able to sampled this tasty bun for free so I suggest you sign up as well. The new Byronissimo is inspired by Italy with ingredients like melting Fontina cheese, crispy pancetta and slow-cooked tomato relish it really was a delight. Not too heavy and always cooked to order perfectly (medium rare in my case) make sure you don't miss out on this tasty Italian inspired cheese and bacon burger.

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