With the sheer number of new restaurants and bars opening in Manchester, there is always going to be some casualties. I was shocked to find myself invited to review a restaurant one Saturday night and the following Monday, a tweet announced that they had closed their doors for good. It had been good too, so it’s not just the average places that are having to close their doors due to Manchester’s growth. A venue that has stood the test of time, and continues to fill its tables is Sam’s Chop House.
Located down a small side street behind Market Street, this city centre restaurant has been welcoming customers since 1872. A traditional style pub, they have welcomed many a famous face over the years and you will find one of Manchester’s most famous artists still sat at the bar.
With beautifully tiled floors and traditional wooden furniture, the interior doesn’t appear to have changed much over the years yet the bar area was still full for a pub quiz when I visited on a Tuesday evening. Lots of diners were enjoying their food and there was a real bustle about the place. So how do they manage to keep an old, tucked away gem a flourish with activity and custom? Their Best of British menu probably has something to do with it.
The perfectly named Bill of Fare menu is a gastronomic view of the British Isles presenting classical British cooking with a modern twist.
Having looked at the menu online before our visit, a choice of starter was a no brainer for me. The Godminster Cheddar Cheese Fondue fulfilled all my cheese dreams with a light yet rich cheese sauce and chunks of chewy sourdough to dip. As a sharing starter I would have liked to either see more bread or a selection of vegetables rather than just radishes but I was happy all the same.
I couldn’t resist ordering their classic dish, Corned Beef Hash. In fact, when I visit any of the Chop Houses in Manchester, I rarely order anything else. Taking 10 days to make, to a secret recipe, the combination of salty corned beef with sautéed potatoes and creamed onions is an absolute winner. Finished with a soft poached egg and crispy bacon, I reckon this dish could be eaten at any time of the day. It has breakfast written all over it and would certainly set me up the right way for the day ahead.
My friend chose the Traditional Fish & Chips with a special bitter-battered Scottish whiting, chunky chips, peas and tartare sauce. The fish was a bit mushy and could have done with being cooked slightly longer but those chips! They took me back 20 years to the days when my Gran would get out her deep fat fryer, hand cut a load of potatoes and create a chippy tea without having to leave the house.
Choosing to trust Mr L.S. Lowry, I chose the dessert he used to enjoy at Sam’s in the 1960s. The rice pudding is spiked with creamy vanilla and the rice still has a nice bite, making it creamy yet not sloppy like rice pudding can be. The addition of Yorkshire rhubarb gives a fruity touch and a finishing touch of chunks of gingerbread dotted on top.
My friend usually chooses a chocolate dessert and was a bit disappointed that there isn’t that option on the dessert menu at Sam’s. He went for the Ice Cream from Cheshire Farm which was fairly expensive at £5. It was tasty though and the shortbread was light and crumbly.
If you are looking for traditional charm and no nonsense traditional pub grub, I’m not sure there is anywhere in the City Centre that ticks the boxes like Sam’s Chop House. And that, my friends, is probably why they are still going strong. That and Mr Lowry still sat to greet you at the bar of course.
We were invited to dine as guests of Sam’s Chop House and were not asked to pay for our meal.