Harden's survey result
“The wooden booths are lovely for privacy if not for comfort” (their hard benches, while “iconic”, are “not really designed to be sat on for two hours or so”), at Will Lander & Daniel Morgenthau’s “snug” but “bum-numbing” Grade II listed ‘Working Class Caterer’ (est 1869), which has been a foodie favourite since it became a trailblazer for modern British cuisine in the early ’90s (and more recently its re-re-launch in 2012). Its meat-heavy menu is “innovative but not showy” and “consistently good” if a little pricey. Recent innovations include an adjacent café and wine shop.
“If you can tolerate the discomfort” of the “terrible”, bum-numbing benches, the “authentic Victorian wooden booths lend charm” to this restored Grade II listed ‘Working Class Caterer’, which in the ’90s helped establish the environs of Exmouth Market as the foodie hotspot it has become. Nowadays with Shaun Searley at the stoves, it continues in the oft-“excellent” but sometimes “variable” vein that it has under his predecessors, offering a meaty menu “clearly influenced by Henderson and St John” and a wine list “full of interesting gems (some on Coravin)”.
“Evocative”, restored Victorian ‘Working Class Caterer’, near Exmouth Market, whose “authentic wooden booths” have infamously “uncomfortable benches”. At its best currently, it’s an all-round success with “enthusiastic” service and “superb quality” British-sourced fare (“meat especially”) but it’s not consistent – bad days feature “staff all over the place” and “unremarkable”, “expensive” dishes. An “exceptionally well-chosen” wine list is the pluspoint you might expect of somewhere part-owned by Jancis Robinson’s son. Top Menu Tip – “confit potato to die for”.
“Retaining the era of a bygone age” – this restored ‘Working Class Caterer’ is a foodie linchpin of Farringdon, despite its “bum-numbingly, cripplingly-uncomfy, bench-seating booths”; “honest” British grub is “prepared with care”, but it’s somewhat secondary to the “brief but intriguing and fairly priced” wine list.
|Wine per bottle||£33.00|
The Quality Chop House EC1
Farringdon's famous 'working class caterer' rises yet again, offering a direct English menu in a tightly packed 'pew-seating' dining room - an early days visit found a simple but effective formula, offered at very reasonable prices.
Let's start by getting the benches out of the way. This Victorian 'working class caterer' has always been most famous for bum-numbing perches that passed as places to sit. No more. The new régime has come up with an ingenious extension-cum-cushion device to address the problem. Well, to a large extent - the tables are still very narrow, and you still get to rub knees with the person opposite.
In a city with few 'historic' (commercial) dining rooms, however, we should prize one of the few that looks today pretty like it must have looked 140 years ago. With its polished tables, attractive traditional cutlery and pretty old plates, it has a real timeless charm.
The cuisine has probably evolved a bit over nearly a century and a half, but chops are still a daily feature of a blackboard menu that's notably short and generally pretty simple. A lunchtime chop comes garnished and with a glass of wine for just £13. We were given a choice of lamb or pork - we chose the latter, which came with red cabbage and mash. The chop was not large, but it was notably succulent - part of a plate which was pretty much perfect for lunch. A brace of plump sardines to start were pretty good too, as was the bread, and a 'Quince (Eton) Mess' for pudding. Perhaps few lunchers nowadays, though, want quite such lashings of cream?
For an (even) more informal meal, the adjoining wine bar looks as if it should become a popular local stand-by. We failed to look at the actual wine list. The management's antecedents, though, suggest it should be of some note,
94 Farringdon Rd, London, EC1R 3EA
|Number of Diners:|
|Monday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Tuesday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Friday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm-2:30 pm, 6 pm-10 pm|
|Sunday||12 pm-4 pm|