To say “I went to a chop shop” sure sounds naughty doesn’t it? Sorry to alarm you. It’s not that sort of chop shop, more of ‘Sam’s Chop Shop’, the delivery arm of Sam’s Chop House Restaurant in Manchester.
I have previously visited Sam’s brother Albert (as in Albert’s Chophouse) when I was reviewing for Manchester Confidentials and I loved it there. With dining out and travel being restricted, I am now trying at-home deliveries from restaurants pivoting to offer takeaway options.
I ordered food from Sam’s Chop Shop during the festive period. I was a little worried about delivery as the food had to travel all the way from Manchester to Derby, and it was Christmas week. Would the food arrive on time? Would it survive the arctic journey? Would the food keep till Christmas Eve if I ordered it for the 22nd December? So many questions peppered my mind.
I worried needlessly. The food arrived promptly, and I was informed of an ETA via text, email, telephone call and carrier pigeon. (Fine, not the carrier pigeon bit, but if that was an option, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a Mancunian pigeon pecking at my balcony window, begging to be let in, with a confirmatory missive tied to its neck.) Yes, the folks at Sam’s Chop House really want to loop you in on every step of the delivery, and that really put my mind at ease.
So, to the delivery. It arrived promptly and well packaged, with easy to follow instructions. So, from unboxing to table, the entire meal took less than 20 minutes. This included preheating the oven, which I quickly switched on when the buzzer went announcing the delivery of erm, the delivery man.
Eating during the festive period, especially a few days’ before Christmas always fills me with an odd amalgamation of ennui and befuddlement. Actual Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are the two main days when you’re supposed to “Go all out”. Which means that all the days in between are all just “filler days” where it’s pointless planning for them as they’re not really special.
Because 2020 has been a unique year to say the least, I thought “Stuff it, I’m going to order from some place nice for Christmas Eve food.” And that is how the order from Sam’s Chop House came to be. Except the food didn’t make it till Christmas Eve. We slung Sam’s stuff in the oven on the day of arrival (22 December) and I am not even ashamed for being a greedy guzzler. And on the subject of greedy guzzlers, because we couldn’t wait to dive into the food, photograph styling went out of the window. Thank you to Sam’s for sending photos and not judging me when I fessed up to scarfing the food quickity quick.
We ordered three mains of homity pie (two for us, one for the mum). Home-made rough pastry chock-full of gloriously gooey cheese (tangy Lancashire and comforting Cheddar) was hearty, filling and felt luxurious. It might seem oxymoronic, but it’s true; this pie was magnificent and it really did feel like a treat. Accompanying creamed leeks laced with mustard ramped up the earthy oniony-ness, whilst piquant piccalilli was the perfect counter to cut through any richness before it become cloying. I loved the rosemary potatoes, because potatoes (they are heaven – do I really need to give a reason for liking them?).
A side of cauliflower cheese was intense in a good way, the smoked applewood Cheddar marrying well with Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese to create a golden sauce that smelt divine.
Pumpkin and sage dumplings (braised kale, Jerusalem artichokes) was a dish that felt grown-up and sophisticated; I especially liked the sage running through the entire dish, that was both in the foundation of the vegan gnocchi and added to the artichokes too.
Dessert of lemon posset and stewed plums was the crowning conclusion to a special meal that soothed and sated my soul. Indulgent in texture and regal to look upon, this dessert was a personal highlight. I don’t usually eat plums, as I seem to be cursed to always bite into them when they’re either eye-wateringly tart, woolly, or on a really bad day, both. These stewed plum beauties here were sweetened with Christmas spices and were a joy to scarf. Accompanying shortbread biscuits were beautiful and I would be really happy to receive a box of these if they were available for sale (hint hint to the chefs at Sam’s Chop House, please make this happen).
Thank you to all the hard work the chefs do at Sam’s Chop House, and for putting a smile on my face (I am thinking of your lemon posset whilst I write this and it is making me smile all over again).
Sam’s At Home is a triumph and I will be ordering again. And again.
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