Saturday, 5 December 2009
Lick your chops & fill your belly!
There was no food in the house, well nothing worthy of my attention or the serious hangovers we were both nursing. A bowl of granola just doesn’t cut the mustard at times like that. It’s like getting a polite handshake when you crave a big hug. So, as we were heading into Leeds anyway, we decided to make the most of the opportunity and have a late Saturday lunch at Sam's Chop House.
Sam's is a bit of a Manchester institution, apparently, having been established there in 1872; we've been to the one in Leeds a couple of times now since it opened and really enjoyed it, so it is nice to see that they seem to be cementing their position over the Pennines as well. Located in the grade-II listed former Pearl Assurance building in the city centre financial district, it has been sympathetically renovated with a Victorian inspired vibe, keeping lots of the original features; mouldings, panelling, tiles and high ceilings. The atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed, with people sitting around reading newspapers or chatting over a drink and a convivial lunch.
They have a good selection of bottled & draught beers and cask ales, including their own brew Sam's Special, and an award-winning wine list. Given our fragile states though we choose not to indulge and stuck with fresh juice.
The menu features hearty traditional British grub made from seasonal ingredients, all served in generous portions; classics such as fish 'n' chips, belly pork, fish pie, corned beef hash and various chops & steaks. I can overlook the fact that there was asparagus on the menu in November, for what was to follow.
Having had nothing to eat all day (it was now approaching 3pm) we were starving and both wanted a starter; I had the Brown Onion Soup and Dave went for the Crispy Corned Beef Hash Cakes, made with their home-corned brisket and topped with a perfect poached egg and brown sauce dressing. Both were absolutely delicious, but for us it was really all about the main event.
I had known what I wanted even before I walked through the door and despite Dave's usual aversion for ordering the same thing as me, neither of us could resist and we both ordered the home-made Steak & Kidney Pudding. They warn you it’s substantial and it doesn't disappoint. The suet crust is actually quite thin and delicate but once you break through it’s packed solid with rich, melting meat and chunks of lamb's kidney. It is served with an individual jug of tasty gravy and some of the best chips I have ever eaten – thick and fluffy inside but amazingly crunchy on the outside. The crushed marjoram scented peas were a good accompaniment too. Less than half way through I was already regretting the delicious soup and unfortunately my eyes proved to be bigger than my, not insignificant, belly; I just couldn't finish mine. Dave struggled manfully to polish his off and did manage it but neither of us could squeeze in a desert. We left, feeling better and knowing that we had been right to forsake the immediate gratification offered by the granola and hold out for the food equivalent of a full on and immensly satisfying love-in.
Sam's Chop House
8 South Parade, Leeds, LS1 5QX