[Manchester, city centre] Albert Square Chop House

There’s always been something appealing about the two chophouses in the city centre. I suppose it’s summed up by their advertising – “Great British Food……Nostalgic….Proper……Made in the North”. In truth we’ve always preferred Sam’s to the Albert Square outlet. The food at the latter has always been a bit indifferent and, tonight, the service was poor as well. And Sam’s has the more appealing space – you can almost envisage yourself there in Victorian times.

I’d read the online menu and had great plans to start with the devilled chicken livers on toast. However, we came into the city early to have a wander round the Christmas market and, truth be told, I was seduced by a bratwurst. It made the idea of a starter impossible. So, straight into main courses. For one of us, that was a ribeye. It came accurately cooked as requested and accompanied by what the menu described as “hand cut” chips but seemed much to uniform to be other than bog standard frozen from the wholesaler (and they needed another couple of minutes cooking to get a “proper” colour on them). There’s also roast shallot, shallot puree and watercress, all of which work well. On the other plate, their signature corned beef hash. The claim is that’s “10 days in the making” and it can be a thing of joy, mixed with saute potatoes and creamed onions and topped with a poached egg and streaky bacon. But, in spite of all that, it tasted very mono-dimensional – the same flavour, pretty much just of meat, in the mouth every time. It was all OK, of course, but that was all.

There was a “proper” pudding – a steamed sponge topped with Duerr’s marmalade. Duerrs has been making jams and marmalades in the city for 135 years so this is definitely a local dessert for local people. And there’s good custard , as well, enhanced with a slight hit from Drambuie. The other dessert was simply ice cream.

I think we’ll probably just stick to Sam’s in the future.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr