Sam’s (Victorian) Chop House is what I would call a proper boozer. Established in 1872 by local businessman Samuel Studd, it’s traditional, cosy, with heritage lovingly preserved. Its patrons have included some of Manchester’s finest including artist LS Lowry who can still be found sat at the end of the bar, immortalised in bronze. Winner of Best Dining Pub in Central Manchester at the Eat Drink Sleep Awards 2015, it’s not all about the pints. They have one of the best wine lists I’ve ever seen in a pub, let alone a restaurant, and their food is best of British. Sunday roasts should be right up their street then.
The Sunday menu offers two courses for £19.95 or three courses for £24.95. A good start. I truly believe people want these kinds of offers on a Sunday as they are in no rush and are happy to sit there while more food and drink arrives taking away the burden of what to cook for supper.
For starters we ordered two to share, Altrincham Blue Cheese Salad and H. Forman & Sons Scottish Smoked Salmon. I don’t often order a salad when I eat out, apart from as a side dish, because they are never substantial enough and often feel like an afterthought. This one was neither.
Claire Burt’s award-winning blue cheese was triumphant and then some, its creaminess a great contrast to the bitter endive, with candied walnuts adding sweetness and texture. More awards courtesy of the London cured smoked salmon which may not have required much preparation but still tasted great with salty capers and tangy shallots.
We drank a South African Kleine Zalze Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc (£6.50 175ml) which was delicious with a good body and weight to carry the blue cheese. I mentioned earlier how good their wine list is, there are so many to choose from by the glass. Frankly we were spoilt for choice.
The roast rump of beef is from Dukesmoor and aged for 28 days. Although the colour looked fantastic it was slightly over if you like your beef pink, as if it had stood for a while and cooked a little more.
I understand this could happen anywhere depending on what time of day you go in as they can’t roast your joint to order, but as I have to compare this to many other roasts I have eaten. This was my main – and pretty much only – gripe. It had bags of taste, no fat and was seasoned well. The rosemary roast potatoes were my favourite yet, crispy on the outside, and fluffy in the middle with a huge yet light Yorkshire. The baby carrots were beautifully sweet, scrubbed rather than peeled and better for it. Good peas. Good broccoli. Good baby gem?! I’ve never seen this on a roast dinner, but I actually liked it! And a robust and stocky gravy.
Again a superb red accompanied our roast, an Etchart Privado Valle de Cafayate Malbec (£6.50 175ml). What those Argentinians don’t know about beef and wine ain’t worth knowing.
Could desserts be their downfall then? No way. Classic and British through and through. Eton Mess was light as air meringue with fresh strawberries in a sweet vanilla whipped cream. And I had to order the Mr Lowry’s Rice Pudding or he may have abducted me at the bar. Creamy rice pudding with sharp gooseberries and crumbled gingerbread, a little too much nutmeg but I think this is my personal problem with the spice and not the dessert.
I could have hardly eaten the rice pudding without the sommelier’s advice on the menu. Ther Nederberg Late Harvest Stellenbosch dessert wine (£5 50ml) was again fantastic. Sweet but so clean with an amazing finish.
A very solid and British three courses at Sam’s Chophouse. I would have preferred my meat slightly pinker and more tender – so not quite full points for the roast, but a very fine contender nevertheless.
The wine absolutely made the meal for me, the drink being just as important as the food, and being in one of Manchester’s oldest and finest pubs I should think so too. Cheers Sam! And Mr Lowry too.