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Sam's Chop House Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield falls in love with Scotch eggs, bacon and cabbage

Written by . Published on April 28th 2014.


Sam's Chop House Reviewed
 

I DREAM of Scotch eggs. I always have I suppose. Ask my doctor. 

It's a childhood thing.

Occasionally an old subterrranean venue with plenty of stories to tell does this; shuts out the day, cocoons you in a fug of red wine and food that compels you to stay

My mother made Scotch eggs adding herbs of her choice into the meat mix with great success. Crucially she never failed to ensure the egg was runny.

An optimist - a terrible failing in a writer - I have over the years sampled many a commercially produced Scotch egg, usually on train journeys across Britain. I've visited life-sapping stations the length and breadth of the nation and with hope triumphing over experience purchased golden packages of regret by the score.

Inside it's always the same, the food resembles hard-boiled crows' eggs wrapped in sausage meat made from sows' eyeballs, clippings from trotters and mud from the piggery floor.

But I can't help it. I dream of Scotch eggs. Ask my doctor 

Sam's on the outside

Sam's on the outside

Now the time of the Scotch egg is upon us. 

Everybody in the wide world who does a British style menu has a Scotch egg sitting there - I had a marvellous one at The Dockyard recently. They've become as pervasive as belly pork a decade ago and beetroot three years ago. 

But there can be few anywhere near as good as the one I had in Sam's Chop House on Wednesday. It was perfect, a subtly spicy meat case surrounding a soft egg that almost audibly said "hello" in a cheery voice as I cut into it (see top image).

It was made better still by the leap of imagination that matched the egg with smoked haddock. This give the dish added character, as did a delightfully musky curry mayonnaise to muck about with.

At £6.50, Sam's smoked haddock Scotch egg is worth sampling even if you eat nothing else and ask for tap water.

Before the The smoked haddock Scotch egg before the "hello"

The starter's big, ballsy, strength was maintained with the cabbage and bacon main (£14). This should win awards for the simple virtues its name implies. What you get is gammon that almost audibly says "welcome" in a cheery voice as it breaks with good odour and robust flavour.

The cabbage was a perfect foundation, the peas were a joy (when are they not?) but the whole was shunted up a point on the scoring system by a chicken stock, or 'cream', as Sam's calls it. This was so rich, creamy and well-seasoned I asked for a spoon and slurped the left-overs like a soup.

Cabbage and bacon mainCabbage and bacon main

The parsnip cake pudding (£6) was a curiousity but a welcome one and beautifully executed. It was a sponge with parsnip jam, custard and all the requisite floaty appeal of a good sponge.

The parsnip was very parsnippy, very 'present' and I wasn't massively sure until the second mouthful whether its sweet vegetable nature was a good sponge fit. Then all was forgiven. 

The inner puritan in me feels ashamed that on a working Wednesday afternoon a particularly lush Barbera D'Alba was enjoyed at £32.80. Still, food writers have to enjoy their small rewards.

Parsnip spongeParsnip cake pudding

This meal was a cut above the last Sam's meal I'd had many months ago.

It turns out there's a relatively new fella in the kitchen called Tony Atkins. Tony is doing well it would appear, there was nothing much wrong with our meal. At the same time our main waiter was conscientious and pleasant and didn't pester us as to our well-being every fourth minute. 

I was particularly pleased the old misery-guts Laurence Stephen Lowry kept to himself despite his overwhelming presence at Sam's Chop House; hogs the bar that one, thinks he's some sort of artist.

Hey, Mr Lowry, you're always at that bar, what type of artist are you? A piss-artist?

Hey, Mr Lowry, you're always at that bar, what type of artist are you? A piss-artist?

Sam's atmosphere, the heavy wood, the tilework, the heritage of the place, worked its magic. The old subterrranean venue with all its stories shuts out the day if you're not careful. It cocoons you in a fug of red wine and food that compels you to stay when you know out there in the cruel cold world there's proper work to be done, responsibilities to be fulfilled.

Before you can say 'locally sourced and hand-reared', it's 5.10pm and you came in at 1pm. 

ALL OUR SCORED FOOD REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY MANCHESTER CONFIDENTIAL. REVIEW VISITS ARE UNANNOUNCED AND COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT OF ANY COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OURSELVES AND THE BUSINESSES CONCERNED. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+ 

Sam's Chop House, Back Pool Fold (off Cross Street), City centre, M2 1HN. 0161 834 3210 

Rating: 16/20
Food: 8.5/10 (Scotch egg 9, cabbage and bacon 8, parsnip cake 8)
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 4/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing, 14-15 worth a trip, 16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Gordo Knows WhoApril 28th 2014.

The best 4-5 hour lunches in Manchester and not a mention of George !! Mr Manchester Wine

1 Response: Reply To This...
Hero
GordoApril 28th 2014.

I believe George finished at 3:00pm and sat down with Jonno for the next two hours!

Georgina Hague shared this on Facebook on April 28th 2014.
GeorgeApril 28th 2014.

I was off because in the evening, with Marcin, we were hosting St. George's dinner, but met up with JS before he departed...

JimApril 28th 2014.

I've been disappointed the last couple of times. The service has been poor and the atmosphere was disappointing. Which is a shame as the actual food is fantastic.

AnonymousApril 29th 2014.

They would advertise with you than would they? Impartial my arse....

HarveyApril 29th 2014.

I felt compelled to make my first ever online comment this morning as I wholeheartedly agree with JS. I've been visiting Sam's for years and it remains an oasis of sanctuary and consistent standards in a sea of mediocrity. It always feels nice to be ensconced in the underground thrum of the bar whilst enjoying a corned beef hash cake topped with a resplendent poached egg and a smear of brown sauce, peerless. As of course are the Manchester Plates, an institution in themselves. Good beer, good service, and of course George. It's my city favourite.

Jemma FieldingApril 29th 2014.

horrific last time i went - fatty horrible duck breast. I didn't pay for it and won't return.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 29th 2014.

Duck breast is fatty though so why order it?

SAZKApril 29th 2014.

LOL spot on anonymous - reminds me of a friend I went to dinner with and she ordered a rib eye then complained about the fat!

Steve5839April 29th 2014.

I would be surprised if you could find your way back if your post is to be believed.

Jemma FieldingApril 29th 2014.

Editorial Comment: We don't allow Trip Advisor links about restaurants as it's a useless guide generally.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 29th 2014.

So I read your review Jemma and you went in January 2013 so like 15 months ago. If you read the article it says the chef has changed since then so I just cant see why your still on your hobby horse about it? its a duck breast and its been more than a year. Chill.

Peter CoppingApril 29th 2014.

Sounds like a love affair

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