What’s the USP? Recipes and stories from a landmark London restaurant that’s been trading in one form or other since 1869.
Who are the authors? William Lander (son of wine writer Jancis Robinson and restaurant critic Nick Lander) and Daniel Morgenthau own the London-based Woodhead Restaurant Group that also includes Portland, Clipstone and Emelia. Shaun Searley is the Quality Chop House’s head chef. He was previously head chef of Bistotheque in East London and worked under chef Peter Weeden at the Paternoster Chophouse.
What does it look like? Hurrah! A restaurant cookbook that actually includes shots of the interior and exterior of the actual flipping restaurant (*deep breath* – a personal bugbear of mine, it’s amazing how often this doesn’t happen). In addition to the deeply appetising food photography (shot with the minimum of fuss with dishes plates on the restaurant’s own beautful antique crockery), there’s a selection of moody black and white images and some location photography featuring the restaurant’s suppliers. The use of a variety of coloured backgrounds for some of the text and images including cream, grey, brown and black adds variety to the reading experience and looks sleek and smart.
Is it good bedtime reading? The clue is in the subtitle, ‘Modern Recipes and Stories from a London Classic’. There’s a foreword from super-fan and Sunday Times restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin, who basically says she’d move into the place if she could, and an introduction, history and day in the life of the restaurant before the main meat of the book. Also included are a few supplier profiles and an article on wine by Gus Gluck who runs the wine bar in the Quality Chop House’s shop next door to the main restaurant.
Will I have trouble finding ingredients? This is definitely the sort of book where you will need access to a decent butcher, fishmonger and deli or online equivalents for many of the main ingredients. We’re talking Mangalitza pork, whole turbot. foie gras, game, gizzards, high quality canned fish and artisan cheeses. The list goes on.
What’s the faff factor? If you cook the recipes as stipulated, you are looking at quite a major investment in time. Take something as seemingly as simple as mince on dripping toast. Before you make the mince, you will need dark chicken stock and dark beef stock, both of which require about five and half hours to make and combined need four chicken carcasses, two marrow bones, four beef rib bones, two beef knuckles and a pigs trotter. The signature confit potatoes need to be sliced on a mandoline, tossed in duck fat, then layered and cooked for 3 hours, pressed and chilled overnight, cut into pieces, deep-fried and finished with mustard dressing, which gets its own separate recipe.
How often will I cook from the book? For the most part, this is weekend project cooking territory. That said, there are some more straightforward recipes such as whole roasted cauliflower, roast delicia squash, crispy sage, seeds and oats and burnt leeks vinaigrette that you might knock up during the week, as well as recipes for the sandwiches sold in the Chop House’s shop that will be perfect for lunch any day.
Killer recipes? In addition to those mentioned above, the book is packed full of delicious sounding things, including pastrami cured salmon, corn and marmite butter, truffled potato croquettes and beef fat bread rolls.
What will I love? You get a very real sense of what the Quality Chop House is all about. If you are a fan, it will make you want to go back immediately and if you’ve never been you’ll be desperate for a table.
What won’t I like? This is quite a meaty book (again, the clue is in the title), so if you’re trying to eat less of the stuff or are vegetarian or vegan, this won’t be the book for you.
Should I buy it? Keen cooks willing to invest time and some money to create restaurant-quality dishes at home will absolutely devour this book.
Suitable for: Confident home cooks/professional chefs
Cookbook Review Rating: Five stars
Buy this book
The Quality Chop House: Modern Recipes and Stories from a London Classic
£30, Hardie Grant
(Head to the restaurant’s website for a signed copy wrapped in their own branded butcher’s paper)