In keeping with the recent trend of restaurants opening their own food shops, the highly esteemed Quality Chop House near Exmouth Market has just opened one next door. The original 19th century British restaurant was relaunched in 2012. It’s owned by Will Lander, the son of wine expert Jancis Robinson and restaurant critic Nicholas Lander, and Josie Stead, who has worked in Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Sketch. It’s housed in a Grade II listed building, which retains many of the old design features.
Like the restaurant, the new shop is a handsome-looking space, traditional yet stylish, decorated in creams, blacks and slate greys. It has antique-looking floorboards, old-fashioned black and white tiles, and pristine wooden cabinets in which the products sparkle like vibrantly coloured jewels in a trinket box. The food shop and butcher are partitioned into two separate areas, the former leading to the latter.
In the food shop, own-made meat items are very much the speciality. The selection includes brawn (£1.75 per 100g), middle white pork and pistachio terrine (£4 per 100g), and ‘family pie’ made from beef, mushrooms and ale (£17.50). There’s a daily-changing lunchtime specials board of freshly cut sandwiches, pork pies, sausage rolls and sliced meats. In the chiller cabinet, you’ll find little jars of chicken liver and foie gras parfait, and whipped lardo (both £8).
Another speciality is own-made jams, marmalades, chutneys and pickles. An onion marmalade we tasted was perfect in a cheese sandwich, and had enough intensity of flavour for use in making gravy. Condiments like chipotle chutney (£4), crab apple jelly (£5) and clementine marmalade (£5.50) are attractively packaged. However, although they’re marked with production and sell-by dates, they do not list ingredients so you’ll have to ask if you have special dietary needs.
The shop also sells a few Neal’s Yard cheeses like tunworth (£11 each) and ardrahan (31.50 per kg); and breads, including sourdough, soda and rye, from Elliot’s bakery. Picture-pretty fruit and veg such as Amalfi lemons (£5.50 per kg) and fresh horseradish root (£11.85 per kg) are supplied by Mash; plus “an Italian lady who drives down to Italy every week”.
The shelves are not randomly crammed: the shop is taking time to stock up gradually with “the right products”. Already in place are wines, wine glasses, soft drinks, London honeys, oils, vinegars, olives, seasonings, and food and drink magazines. Chocolates, and own-made pastries and biscuits are also there to tempt you.
Most items are British, but there are also Spanish products like El Navarrico beans and lentils (from £3.40) and marinated white anchovies, boquerones (£9.95); French dry-cured sausage saussice seche (£47.80 per kg); and Acquerello (£12), the exclusive aged rice from a family farm in Piedmont that’s currently found on fashionable restaurant menus. We spotted rarely seen items like rape seeds (for sprinkling on salads and appetisers), and gorgeous fuchsia-coloured red wine-infused sea salt.
Over at the butcher, lighter cuts of meat that are easier to cook are sold on Mondays, with larger joints introduced as the weekend approaches. We found best ends of kid goat (£30 per kg), herdwick mutton chops (£20 per kg) and flat iron steak (£16.50 per kg); along with chicken, bacon, faggots and sausages. Lander says: “We prepare all our meats on the premises. For instance, our hams are butchered, cured and glazed in-house. All our chefs are butchers, and vice versa.”
He further elaborates: “The shop is an extension, and a reflection, of the restaurant. Both have the same suppliers.” Emphasising the point that the meat products and condiments are made in the restaurant’s own kitchen, he says: “the aim is to give the taste of restaurant quality food at home.” The food shop and butcher certainly have their own distinct identity. Far from feeling like an afterthought, they are very much a destination in their own right.
Quality Chop House Food Shop & Butcher, 92-94 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA. Tel: 020 3490 6228.