Manchester in my eyes is the home of the chop house.
It’s the first place I ever discovered one (Albert’s, then Tom’s then the wonderfully quirky Sam’s Chophouse) and I adored how eloquently they served steaks, chops, fine wines and great ales. Hearty, wholesome, gastronomic delights served with finesse and flare. Plus, there is always room for a cheese-focused pudding to finish!
I was recently invited to review Mr White’s Chophouse on Canal Street. It’s located beneath (and is part of) the Velvet Hotel and Bar and having had previously excellent experiences in Manchester Chophouses and chef-restaurant ventures (namely Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc) I thought yep. This is going to be fantastic.
Starters and Drinks
The gin selection is great and our server, Aaron, read the list off-by-heart making recommendations as he went along. I opted for Sip Smith’s, Lucas for Boodles – both refreshing, clean and served in stunning crystal glasses. They did, however, both have the same garnish which is becoming increasingly less popular as each gin now usually have their own recommended garnish to complement the botanicals within.
As for the wine to accompany the chophouse traditional red meat – I opted for an Argentinian Malbec. It was on the full-bodied side, with hints of chocolate and spice. It was lovely, but I did find the wine list expensive. My Grandad always taught me never to go for the house wine as there are always ‘better value’ options available. As I’ve got older, I’ve learnt to truly appreciate what he meant by that, but £36 for the bottle did seem a little steep.
The sourdough bread and olives to nibble were delicious, the bread warm and the butter salty and soft, the olives vibrant green and juicy.
I had the calamari to start – overall it was tasty, but the batter was sliding off, it didn’t have that sharp, crisp crunch to the batter. It felt a little steamed rather than fried, somehow but the sauce tartare was delicious.
The rillettes of duck was disappointing. It seemed to lack any real depth of flavour. But again, the sourdough was delicious and we were ready for the mains.
Mains and Desserts
In classic chop house style – we had to try the roast rump of lamb Dijonnaise. On the menu, it’s described as being served with dauphinoise potatoes, but sadly they had ‘run out’.
In its place, a potato fondant was offered. This, unfortunately, made the meal feel more like a mass-catered wedding dish than a focal point of chef Marco Pierre White’s chophouse main menu.
But, my potato dreams weren’t shattered altogether. The triple cook chips were excellent. So crispy yet soft in the middle, they soaked up the rosemary meat juices perfectly.
The Dijon mustard used for the Dijonnaise is frightfully strong. Even in colour, it’s bright yellow much more like an English mustard. This does overpower the delicate flavour of the lamb but thankfully, I love a spicy mustard!
Keen to try a veggie option we also tried the Mac and Cheese. This dish is effectively two side dishes served as one with a soft hen’s egg and adjusted portion sizes. What intrigued me was the description; Marco’s baked macaroni cheese with poached hen’s egg, green salad and truffle dressing.
I imagined a decadent dish cheffed-up with the addition of truffle through the greens. But I must say, I make a better version of this dish at home (following the Spuntino restaurant recipe). After checking we had the right dressing for the salad we all confirmed the overriding flavour in fact balsamic vinegar, not truffle, as promised.
In true chop house style, the cheese had to be the focal point of dessert. Serving up Alex James’ cheddar and blue cheese with a think slice of fruit cake, the dish as standard is served with one cheese only. So be sure to ask if you’d actually prefer a portion of each (who wouldn’t!).
The cheese would have been even better were served at room temperature but that gave me chance to eat the affogato first – which was lovely and a very generous portion size indeed!
Service and Prices
Overall the service was great. Aaron our server looked after us well, making recommendations as we went along and delivering a prompt, professional service.
All in all, the bill was £127.60 which I do think is on the expensive side for how good this meal really was. I found it to be a little lacklustre overall and not the cheffy, chop house experience I’d hoped for.
But, I think it’s great they’re bringing more restaurants to the Canal Street area – giving me more reason to visit this cool part of town which is only a short walk from the central really Picadilly gardens.
I have noticed Mr White’s Chophouse is offering 40% off food on quieter days. So, if you head down there get yourself a promotional offer to try their food at a great price before you decide if it’s going to be a regular on your list!
Have you dined at a Chophouse recently? What did you think?