Every Friday I look forward to picking up my free ES Magazine at Waterloo to read the latest restaurant review from Grace Dent. I enjoy guessing which latest London opening will feature each week and last week, I guessed right (for the third week in a row I must add!). I was particularly proud of the fact I had visited Chop Shop before Grace, although she beat me in publishing a review.
Chop Shop is the latest opening from the Altamarea Group who already have an established portfolio of restaurants mainly in the US. They describe their new London venture as “butcher-shop inspired“, which wasn’t overly identifiable when entering. Located on Haymarket, a road quite often forgotten, Chop Shop’s lit exterior can’t be missed. The interior is just as trendy with hanging lights and large clay milk bottles on the wall, oh and the knives, which account for the butcher-shop theme, I initially missed. My friends ordered a drink from their infamous cocktail menu to be told they had run out of ingredients. Jill asked if they could make something similar (citrusy) but the bar maid just looked at us blankly like she only knew how to make the five cocktails on the menu. Not the best start I thought.
With a focus on meat, the menu matched the New York-come-London feel of the place. It was quirky and I liked it. The girls went for the set ‘Express Menu’ which consisted of a jar (£4), Hanger steak (£16), sauce (£2) and chips (£3) for £19, saving them a reasonable £5. After a tasting session at The Tower Hotel the previous evening, I wasn’t overly hungry so I settled for a ‘crock’. I was told this was a small plate/starter but it was more than enough for a main. Being my adventurous self I ordered the polenta and salsiccia, which consisted of parmesan polenta, italian sausage and cavolo nero. The crock was nice but I certainly made the wrong choice when I saw my friends hanger steak, which looked less filling than my ‘starter’. Although creamy, I couldn’t taste any cheese in the polenta and the gravy made it runny, resembling some form of baby food.
The sausage was rather hard (innuendo not intentional!) but had a good amount of flavour to it. The combination of ingredients made this dish a comfort on an autumn evening. It was the first ‘cold snap’ of the year but I soon warmed up after my warming crock and a couple of glasses of gorgeous red wine. So warm in fact, I was ready to sample the dessert menu which includes a choice of five sweet treats, four containing ice cream.
After hearing about it on another blog, Abi and I shared the Chop Shop Brownie Sundae which was a glass jar filled with fudge brownie, vanilla gelato, warm peanut butter sauce and salted peanuts. Unfortunately, the brownies were so hard they nearly took a few teeth out and the peanut butter sauce was almost non-existent. Groans aside, there certainly wasn’t a shortage of peanuts which were generously sprinkled on top. You can never have enough nuts!
My experience of Chop Shop was pleasant and I wouldn’t decline if friends suggested going there again, but I believe there are better newly opened eateries such as Coal Vaults which I visited earlier this month. I often find myself wondering whether I just made the wrong choice off the menu. If you’re in the area and are after a casual dinner and drinks with friends then Chop Shop does the job at pretty good value, but I’m not convinced it lives up to the gleaming review by Grace Dent.
Living life, loving cake,