Good and Generous Dishes at the South Place Chop House

Good and Generous Dishes at the South Place Chop House

The South Place Chop House can easily missed.  It comfortably covers half the ground floor area of the South Place Hotel nestled between the HSBC bank and Marks & Spencer and the Red Lion pub as you walk from  Moorgate to Liverpool Street.  Personally, I’ve had one or two G+Ts at the rooftop Angler Terrace in the summer sun and we’ve also reviewed the outstanding Michelin starred Angler mainly seafood restaurant at rooftop level, but this is our first review of a dinner at the Chop House.  The restaurant is thus only a short distance from the eastern end of the Barbican Estate – perhaps only a five minute walk there and  stagger back if one has over-indulged – all too easy.

The visit was timed perfectly with the arrival of new Head Chef Guy Betteridge from his over 9 years with the Gordon Ramsay Group.  Guy has nearly 2 years’ worth of quality Head Chef experience which explains why there isn’t a wrinkle of worry on his face as he briefs us on the new menu for the restaurant.  Dishes are “uncomplicated” and honest and there seems to be a strong focus on the quality of the seasonal ingredients.  Both the hotel restaurants, and the hotel itself, are run by the D&D Group, which operates to an extremely high standard.

In through the main rotating door entrance, the lobby of the hotel is only a distraction: to the left is the 3 Bar which was really very lively and inviting and I’d recommend it for a get-together with friends.  I don’t know much about what exactly the music playing was, but it made me want to dance and the other major pluses were that it wasn’t heaving with people and there were plenty of comfy sofas (is my age showing too much?).  As appealing as the 3 Bar was, we were turning right from the rotating door into the Chop House: spacious with clean lines and warm wood edged tables.  Seating is a comfortable mix of traditional dining and tub chairs and there is an interesting refectory table which must seat nearly 20 people in a group or several smaller groups Wagamama-style.

Of course, having a well-stocked bar across the lobby means that you can order pretty much what you like to drink.  The drinks menu that comes to the table is perfectly fine, though, with a decent selection of wines and a generous choice of speciality craft beers in the Chop House fashion.  The cocktail menu only has a choice of 4 but again, this can’t be a problem if you want something different it is only 20 steps away to your heart’s desire.

The waiter was really lovely.  I know that’s a bit of a wishy washy word, but he was charming and helpful and couldn’t do enough but without gushing (you know what I mean).   He was thoroughly knowledgeable about the wines on offer and the make-up of the menu and helped us choose an English sparkling Hambledon Classic Cuvéea from Hampshire and a 2015 Argentinian Malbec, Viña Cobos, Felino while we delved into the menu.

With my budgeting hat on, what I like about the Chop House is that is has a very tempting and cost-effective Snack Menu, which you can pick and choose from for nibbles, because you don’t always want a big meal, do you?  We tried the Potato & Rosemary bread which arrived as a generous boule straight out of the oven with a perfect rise and crust and we ate far too much to be good for us.  We also tried the deliciously tasty Game Sausage Roll with its pickled walnut ketchup and we also ordered Scampi by delightful mistake and discovered a passion for their tartare sauce which we both hate when served up anywhere else.  Honestly, the sizes of the Snack Menu portions are so generous that we could have stopped there.

The Snack Menu includes:

POTATO & ROSEMARY BREAD, salted butter £3.50

GAME SAUSAGE ROLL with pickled walnut ketchup which you can order by the inch £2.00

SCAMPI with tartare sauce £5.00

WELSH RAREBIT on homemade crumpets £4.00

For starters I ordered the Lamb Breast Scrumpet because I had no idea what it was.  Turned out to be a scrumptious winner and the Gentleman’s Relish (one of the ingredients) wasn’t too strong on the anchovy which suited me.  I kid you not that I was so busy enjoying it that I forgot to take photos and so I’ve had to ask the restaurant to send me some!

My partner chose the Dorset Crab Cake which was hands-down the best crab cake that either of us have ever tasted; so much crab, in fact, that the chef has tremendous skill making it stay as a cake at all.

Crab cake

The Starters Menu includes:

GLOUCESTER OLD SPOT FARMHOUSE TERRINE  with caper berries and charred sourdough £10.00

LAMB BREAST SCRUMPET with Gentlemen’s Relish and land cress £9.00

SMOKED MACKEREL PATÉ with spring onion, horseradish, watercress and rye crackers £9.00

DORSET CRAB CAKE with brown crab mayonnaise and pickled cucumber £12.00/£19.00

CORNISH MUSSELS with garlic, onion & cider £7.00

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP with toasted pumpkin seed oil £7.00

SUPERFOOD SALAD with toasted barley, grilled broccoli, cucumber, radish and natural yogurt £9.00/£12.00 (with chicken +£5.00)

For the main course, I chose one of the Chop House Classics: Homemade Sausages.  The sausages were perfect, not too “bitty” and not too processed and were mouth-watering in a luscious sauce with caramelised onions.

Homemade sausages with mash

My partner chose the Belly of Pork which was very well cooked to give that great combination of crispy crackling and tender, melt in the mouth meat.

Pork belly

On a neighbouring table I noticed one slight young lady chose the Fillet Steak and when it arrived, it was the one of the most generous  I’ve seen on a plate in London, so I might go for that next time.  At over £30, the Fillet isn’t cheap, but it’s making my mouth water now just thinking about the memory of it.

The Main Courses include:

CHOP HOUSE CLASSICS (all at £16.00)

CHOP HOUSE BURGER & CHIPS with Cheddar, iceberg, wholegrain mustard (with dry cured bacon +£2.00

HOMEMADE SAUSAGES with creamed potato and caramelised onions

SCHIEHALLION BEER BATTERED FISH & CHIPS with crushed peas and tartar sauce (with A SCHOONER OF BEER OR A GLASS OF WINE £20.00)

Or

SLOW ROSTED BELLY OF OLD SPOT PORK with apple sauce £16.00

HIGHLAND VENISON HOT POT with swede, turnip & picked thyme £20.00

LONDON SMOKE STOUT BRAISED BEEF with carrot purée and creamed wild mushrooms £22.00

ROASTED FILLET OF CORNISH COD with braised lentils, smoked bacon & cabbage £17.00

POACHED FILLET OF SEA TROUT with leeks, cockles and coastal herbs £19.00

BRAISED LENTILS & BUTTERNUT SQUASH with roasted root vegetables and parsley £15.00

BUBBLE & SQUEAK with celeriac cream, fried duck egg and chive oil £17.00

Or from the Josper grill:

(All of the beef is rare British breeds sourced from trusted artisan suppliers & dry aged for a minimum of 40days).

250gr FLAT IRON £18.00

250gr RUMP £20.00

300gr RIB EYE £30.00

225gr FILLET £34.00

LAMB CHOP £20.00

SMOKED BACON CHOP £17.00

SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN £18.00

Larger cuts for sharing are available on request but are quick to sell out, so be quick!

SAUCES & BUTTERS (PEPPERCORN / BÉARNAISE / RED WINE /CHOP HOUSE BUTTER) £2.00

We did our bit for our health consciousness with some leafy greens and there is a good choice of other side dishes too.

For dessert, I ordered the Cambridge Burnt Cream Caramelised Pear Bakewell, which is a mouthful of a name but scrumptious on the plate.  A giant portion but I only shared one bite with my partner (which is always a good measure of how yummy the dessert is).  It came with the mildest, most delicately flavoured vanilla custard, too.

Pear Bakewell

My partner chose the Vanilla Rice Pudding which was also a huge portion and enough to share.  I would never have chosen rice pudding from the menu but I’m glad he did because it was a taste-bud-opening moment to savour how unlike it was to what I’ve been used to all my life!

Rice Pudding

The Dessert Menu (all at £7.00) includes:

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING with clotted cream

CAMBRIDGE BURNT CREAM CARAMELISED PEAR BAKEWELL with vanilla custard

CHOCOLATE & ALE CAKE with salted caramel

VANILLA RICE PUDDING with pear & raisin compote

SELECTION OF PURBECK FARM ICE CREAMS & SORBETS

Or

TIFFIN £3.00

BRITISH CHEESE SELECTION £8.00

We followed with coffee and Tiffin.  Forget the Carry On movie innuendos, Tiffin cake was invented in the early 1900s in Troon, Scotland.  Sometimes called Fridge Cake, it is like a smooth chocolate brownie with dark rich fruit and topped with dark chocolate.  Chopped into little squares they are served as confectionaries.  I love them because really you can only take one because they are very rich and since they don’t need baking, I’ll be trying my hand at that recipe pretty soon!

The coffee was good too.  Gone are the days when restaurants served up a watery brown sludge which they called coffee.  Now we’ve tended to find that most do indeed serve decent coffee, as well as a number of alternatives.  I had the real stuff while my companion went for a decaf (he claims proper coffee keeps him awake at night – poor dear).  He did reckon the decaf was good though too.

Tiffin

All in all, the South Place Chop House menu offers substantial and hearty meals to warm you up this winter, alongside some simple but scrumptious staple dishes when you don’t want to be too greedy.  The added benefit of a bolt hole for just a snack and a drink is a big plus for me; why go to a pub and have a packet of crisps when you can enjoy some luxury with fresh sausage rolls and rosemary bread for only marginally more.

The Chop House also offers an incredibly popular Bottomless Brunch (the Eton Mess is calling me) and Sunday Roast at the weekends and again, the menus are very flexible.

Overall, the prices are in line with other restaurants of this quality and with a Michelin star under the same roof, the place could be too posh to pitch and could get a bit cocky, but there is none of that down here, just good and generous dishes to remind you of the full meaning of “replete”.

The South Place Chop House is in the South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, London, EC2M 2AF, United Kingdom.  T +44(0)20 3503 0000 F +44(0)20 3503 0777 E hello@southplacehotel.com .

Helen Hudson