In the touristy hotspot of Haymarket, Chop Shop is incongruous to its surroundings. It sits amongst the grating buzz of traffic, Union Jack paraphernalia and, perhaps the worst, Tiger Tiger. But, as Will informs us, this is all about to change. There are plans for a £500 million regeneration to make the area pedestrianized and hopefully more like the London we know and love.
The restaurant is attractively decorated with dim lighting, high ceilings and open brick walls – one of which is quirkily decorated with butchers knives and cleavers. I was impressed by their selection of wine, although only five from the list are under £30. There are also some great cocktails, my personal favourite is the simple Celery Gimlet which could easily replace a Bloody Mary on a Sunday. In fact, it could mean never having to drink a “Skinny Bitch” again. Hurrah! It was light, refreshing and tasted as if it were quite healthy (minus the gin, of course).
We sat downstairs to watch their awesome resident band The Bassment project who perform regularly on Wednesdays. The band created a lively atmosphere with some great tunes and had some impressive solos. The room was buzzing with energy. Don’t fear, if live music isn’t your thing you can sit upstairs in the main dining room and you wouldn’t even know they were there.
Our waitress, Marcia, had an infectious Joie De Vivre. Her enthusiasm for the menu was contagious and made us want to try everything, so we pretty much did. She also recommended a delicious bottle of Tomas Merlot. We started with one of the “jars” from their menu. It was tasty smoked mackerel pate jar with some sour dough bread. We followed this with a cotechino scotch egg which was deliciously executed, and the cottage pasta pie. This was the real winner. The slow-cooked braised oxtail melted in the mouth and the texture of the basil gnocchi with the parmesan crunch made this something quite special.
They have taken great care to source the meat on the menu and the hanger steak was absolute perfection. This, I have been advised, is the best steak on the menu and the serving of red wine bone marrow was quite the saucy accompaniment. Fans of slow cooked meat need to try their slow cooked short rib. It’s another sensational cut, beautifully cooked, although I personally didn’t like the tangy apple and radish slaw. Their take on the burger is also unmissable. Rather than being served in a bun, the dry-aged patty is served in two pieces of thin, crisp carroway bread. I love this as I find fluffy buns distract the flavor of the meat usually. It mouth-wateringly good and gives other burger-specific joints a run for their money.
The sides are just too tempting to refuse. The cheesy leeks are a fromage lovers heaven. The perfect blend of bechemal, mozzarella and parmesan and the crunchy heritage carrots glazed with honey too good not to inhale. Try , if you can, to save some room for dessert. We shared the salty sweet Butterscotch Custard, heavenly, and the Sticky Date Pudding with a warm, thick toffee sauce. Then rolled our ways back home feeling exceptionally full, a little guilty of our gluttony, but extremely satisfied.
Everything we tasted was delicious and total value for money. There are so many treats on offer on the menu, so take a big group of friends and get stuck in. I think it’s a great spot for a first date. You can let the food and the music do the talking in case the other half can’t. I hope one day they plan to open another restaurant somewhere a little further away from the bustle of Leicester Square, but it won’t stop me from visiting again soon.