One of the things I adore about Manchester, is its diverse foodie scene. The fantastic mix of the old with the new, the traditional standing tall, shoulder to shoulder with contemporary counterparts is exciting and fabulous in equal measure. One of Manchester’s more traditional eateries is Sam’s Chop House. Rich in heritage (it has been going strong since 1872 and is older than your grandma), it wears the “Best of British” label loud and proud.
The building is packed chock full of character. It’s the sort of place you suggest adjourning to, after a long day’s work (when you just can’t face writing another feature), because it’s easy to be in. The familiarity you feel upon setting foot on the premises is akin to a sense of belonging. You feel extremely welcome and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into highly vaunted classic British fayre. (Having won Best Dining Pub at Manchester’s Eat Sleep Drink Awards, the bar was set fairly high).
We went on a Friday night, which had a palpable buzz and convivial vibe. The décor is cosy and traditional, the space deceivingly expansive. Dark chocolate wood is incredibly pleasant to look at and reminiscent of a well to do gentleman’s study or library. (You know that stunning library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? That.)
Shown to our swish and comfortable booth by Tom, we perused the menu and ordered quickly (yes we were hungry). I kicked off with a starter of Scottish Smoked Salmon (with shallots, Lilliput capers, lemon) and a slice of sourdough. What I love about Sam’s Chop House, is that the kitchen uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients. That salmon on my plate? I knew it had come from H. Foreman & Sons. This ethical, responsibly sourcing of groceries is what makes Sam’s Chop House stand out from the crowd and for this reason alone, I have vowed to return to the place the next time I’m in the city.
My dining partner started with Corned Beef Hash Cake (served with a soft poached egg, brown sauce). Made with a meaty beef and potato blend, I am assured this was moreish, perfectly seasoned and the egg atop the meat mountain a revelation.
For main, I had Chicken Breast (with lettuce, peas, smoked bacon lardons, vermouth cream). The meat was succulent and a very generous portion indeed. To have moist chicken, lettuce ribbons and vermouth cream in one magnificent mouthful was very special. The team at Sam’s certainly know what they’re doing. By taking a simple dish of chicken and vegetables, the chefs add their innovative twist to elevate the dish to unprecedented greatness.
My dining partner had Pork T-bone Chop (with sage, champ potatoes, Bramley apple sauce). I had a forkful and thought the meat to be a little chewy, yet the flavours of earthy sage and sweet apple were very good.
To not have dessert is blasphemy. I ordered Malteaser Ice Cream Sundae (creamy, dreamy vanilla ice-cream, toasted nuts, chocolate sauce) which I very nearly missed taking a photo of. Why? Because it looked so darn delicious that I couldn’t wait to dive in. The sauce, although milk chocolate, delivered a deep chocolate hit, whilst the crunchy nuts added depth and texture to the glorious goo of malt flavoured ice-cream.
My dining partner had warm Bakewell Tart (with raspberry ripple ice cream). Living in Derbyshire, I have felt the need to taste a Bakewell Tart whenever I can. It is safe to say, that I have probably tasted well over 30 different variations. And Sam’s Chop House Bakewell Tart is one of the best I have ever tasted. The pastry was deliciously short, the punchy zing of raspberry left a party in my mouth, and the light as air frangipane sponge was an absolute joy. I didn’t want that mouthful to ever end. Not one to get morbid, but when one dies, you’re apparently supposed to see your life as a collage of key moments. Me eating that Bakewell Tart will undoubtedly appear in the collage of my life’s best instances.
Sam’s Chop House is charming, fun and does exactly what it says on the tin. The menu has something for everyone and the wine list is comprehensive too. For traditional British food that is good, hearty and served with a smile (Tom our server for the night, is a knowledgeable superstar), hop on over to Sam’s Chop House. Just promise me you’ll leave room for that Bakewell Tart.
Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)
Value for money: 10
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Sam’s Chop House, Back Pool Fold, Manchester M2 1HN
Tel: 0161 834 3210