Meatballs at the Quality Chop House

The Quality Chop House at the top of Farringdon Road is an age old landmark nestled among the gastro-hub surrounding Exmouth Market. It started out as a 'Progressive Working Class Caterers' serving the local manual labourers in the 1870s. The grade two listed building has remained relatively unchanged ever since, although the previous tenants had let conditions slip. A full interior renovation has the place back to its former glory with many of the original fixtures in shiny working order. A magnificent wooden refrigerator made to fit in a narrow gap between the internal staircase and kitchen has been put back to work (see above right).

The work done at the Chop House could not have been undertaken by some motley start-up crew - this sensitive restoration and application of a cunningly thought out concept is surely the work of a seasoned pro. It was my intention to get to the bottom of this NYC inspired meatball concept where a portion of 3 balls is a mere £3.95.

Meatballs is a neatly branded package; a choice of five balls made of all the major meats and a courgette version come in portions of three, but you can add an extra bonus ball for a quid. Here is the clever bit - Sliders. Stick any of the above into a cutesy brioche bun bang, it's fun for everyone. Chunky sides like pappardelle (£2.95) and parmesan cream sauce (an extra £1) or creamed spinach make this diner so amenable it hurts (note: no chips). Tailoring to taste has never been so easy.

So who's behind it all? Hugh Fowler is the man with the plan, and this is just the latest ruse from the casual dining veteran whose CV is as long as your arm. Hugh's restaurant career started in the mid 70s whilst working for the global chain Pizzaland; he then assisted on the first attempt to import the Wendy's brand into the UK. After running two businesses near Tower Bridge, one cafe and ice-cream parlour and a baked potato business, he opened Cafe Pasta in 1987 with his wife Shelly. Cafe Pasta was a huge success and ten years later Fowler sold the chain to Pizza Express for a tidy sum. In 2003 he started Hamburger Union then became MD of CG Restaurants who own Tutton's in Covent Garden and the Fire & Stone pizza brand. Fair to say that this is a man who has earned his stripes.

Meatballs at the Quality Chop House is pretty recession proof with cheap eats offered in a location that will surely have it packed from noon till night. Possibly ripe for a roll out but given the truly magnificent setting it's hard to see it working as well somewhere with less unique character.

Meatballs at The Quality Chop House
92-94 Farringdon Road
London. EC1R 3EA
T: 020 3490 6228

Go to map

Opening Friday 26 August 2011

Some swell shots of the food on Sarah Kemp's blog here

1 comment:

Food For Think said...

Hey Charlie - good to see that you enjoyed it too.

I agree, it would do so well to be rolled out. I imagine it's the sort of restaurant that could work well in a different setting each time, in a building that fits in with the surroundings. Much like Byron has done.