Years ago, I got a very angry phone call.
The man on the end of the line was wondering where he could find a good carvery in Edinburgh. My suggestions (at the time, The George on George Street, and that’s about it) weren’t good enough. He hung up.
Anyway, although actual carveries are as rare as hen’s teeth, the desire for somewhere to have a decent Sunday roast (or brunch) seems to be booming.
I usually visit the ‘rentals for this meal, but since mum keeps forgetting to put the potatoes on, I hooked up with my other half to visit the second branch of Chop House.
It’s on one end of East Market Street’s new Waverley Arches development, where independent shops and businesses have filled former Victorian storage units.
Most of them were open on a Sunday too, so it’s a good day to shop and chop.
Although this place’s Leith original is a handsome joint, they’ve upped the ante with their newer venue. It’s super smart, with more traditional seating upstairs, and slate floors, copper details and suspended Tango orange banquettes downstairs.
We kicked off with two cocktails – one quaffable and the other solid.
The rhubarb fizz (£7) was party-tastic, with a tickly and sherbet-y blend of Botanist Gin, Aperol, rhubarb, lemon, Fee Bros and rhubarb bitters.
It was well paired with the lobster cocktail (£11.50), which was a pimped-up throw-back to the Seventies, thanks to chunks of claw meat, a spiced up Marie Rose sauce with a generous dusting of Uluru-coloured smoked paprika on top, tiny cubes of juicy heritage tomato and, of course, bouncy shredded lettuce, all served in a metal sundae glass.
For mains, I ordered roast beef and all the trimmings (£16.50). After all, that’s what WE were here for. However, my minxy dining partner segwayed at the point of ordering and went for a fillet steak (£26). “Could I....maybe just....?” Betrayal.
No matter, as mine turned out to be a corker of a portion, with a crispy Yorkshire pudding like an upended cloche hat, slippery sweet carrot slivers, a pea and chopped leek mixture, broccoli and five cassette-tape-sized slices of blush pink beef, as well as a few new potatoes (pan-seared so their skin was tattered like weatherbeaten trenchcoats).
On the side was a cocotte of deep bone marrow gravy, and another of (slightly too dilute) horseradish cream.
Great, but I made the mistake of trying my partner’s steak, and, in comparison to his option, my order may as well have transmogrified into something sweaty I’d picked up off the line at Toby’s.
It was insanely good – like a cow had been aerated, then scooshed through a whipped cream dispenser before being reconstituted. Fluffy, as much as a slab of meat can be compared to a hamster in a wind tunnel. And this could be. He accompanied this with crunchy onion rings (£3.50), as well as some chunky dripping chips (£3.50).
This meat and carb blow-out was punctuated by one of their chocolate brownies (£6). I’d say 87 per cent of the time, restaurant brownie offerings are a desiccated disappointment. Not this one.
Served on a piece of what appeared to be, not slate, but marble (like one of Martin Creed’s Scotsman stairs, just 30 seconds away), it was warm, gooey centred and cocoa-dappled, with a blob of burnt marmalade ice cream and crumbly shards of cinder toffee on top.
I’d been so impressed by my preprandial drink that I ditched a second dessert for another cocktail – the Jalisco Two Step (£7.50). It was a salty sweet jumble of my favourite things, with Tapatio Blanco tequila, cherry liqueur (and a few maraschinos on a stick), sea salt and watermelon cordial, agave and lime. Ooft, like licking the sweat off a tropical toucan’s beak (or something).
I love this place, and it’s perfect for a Sunday lunch, as long as you make sure to both order the same thing.
If that man phones back, I’ll suggest he goes here. It’s not really a carvery, but a visit might cheer him up.
Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £67
Chop House Market Street
Arch 15, East Market Street,
Edinburgh (0131-629 1551, www.chophousesteak.co.uk)