This month we took a look at the new Chop House restaurant in the Arches, Edinburgh. Following on from the success of the original Leith institution, the new Chop House is conveniently located close to the city centre and Waverley station, but hasn’t lost any of it’s industrial-chic charm or it’s mouth-watering menu. We asked Chef Jonny Cook, and Four by Two, the designers behind the new restaurant, about why you should be visiting the new offering.
Head Chef, Jonny Cook
Chop House has gained quite a reputation for it’s offerings from the grill. What makes the Chop House stand out from other restaurants?
The name Chop House refers to a traditional British restaurant from the 19th century where good company, fine wines, and meat were enjoyed. We wanted to recreate this with our unique blend of dry-aged steak, wine and cocktails. The interior design of both Chop House Market Street & Leith also play an important part. We wanted to create a modern, laid back environment where people can enjoy the unique Chop House experience and we feel we have achieved this.
Where did you get inspiration for the menu?
When creating the Chop House, we took inspiration from all over the world from London to Australia. Although steak is at the heart of what we do we wanted the entire menu to reflect exceptional food quality. The range of starters designed for sharing, our range of sides and of course the decadent desserts are all an important part of the Chop House dining experience. Our drinks list of cocktails, wines from round the world and craft beers, have all been created to offer variety and quality.
What’s your favourite dish and why? And what drink to go with it?
My personal favourite meal with friends would be the bbq ribs, tempura shrimp and scallops to share to start. Then, a nice big porterhouse sharing steak as it includes different cuts of steak. It’s naturally a very flavoursome cut, which is enhanced through our dry-ageing process and open-flame, charcoal grilling method through which the meat is cooked. I love the bone marrow gravy and chimichurri sauce to accompany my steak. For pudding, the chocolate brownie with marmalade ice cream and honeycomb is delicious, and a cheese board for the table is always great to share. For drinks I like to start with a cocktail, the Speyside sour, then onto a nice Malbec. To round off the meal, a desert wine or port, and then a nice single malt whisky straight up.
You have the day to yourself in Edinburgh. Where would you go and what would you do?
On my day off I like to take a walk around Arthurs Seat, maybe climb to the top if I’m feeling extra energetic. Then I would take a drive down the coast to North Berwick and go for lunch or dinner. Edinburgh has some fantastic bars & restaurant but it’s always nice to get out the city now and again.
Interior Designer, Four by Two.
Can you tell us a bit about the building and the space?
The Arches development provides a truly unique space that no other restaurant in Edinburgh can replicate. The arch itself is part of a series of Council owned units which, up until this project, have been closed to the public and used simply for storage since the late 19th Century. Inside Arch 15 is a 6m high vaulted stone room that displays the beautiful character of Edinburgh’s Old Town, retained for all to see.
What was the inspiration behind the décor for the Chophouse Arches restaurant?
The concept for the Chop House was driven initially from the sister restaurant in Leith; a traditional British Alehouse serving quality cuts of meat in a former cork warehouse. Inspired by the rich historical context of the building, the Chop House Market Street was to provide a unique dining experience that would resonate the client’s brand values of quality produce and relaxed dining in a cutting edge environment. Due to Listed Building regulations, we were not able to touch or fix into the stone within the arch, therefore we designed the multifunctional steel frame structure that was to be both practical and decorative. The frame stands like a ship in a bottle, erected with a 30mm gap in front of the stone corbels that protrude from the walls on each side of the room. We used the frame to support the mezzanine, mechanical ducting, fixed lighting and decorative brass and glass panels to it, creating a canopy upstairs and even hung booth seating from it in the bar area. We weaved the strong brand identity into the furniture, using a ribbon of laser-cut metal panels which surround the mezzanine dining room and wrap down the stairs on to the bar front.
How did you work to incorporate the original features of the building into your design?
The original stone arch acts as a fantastic feature in the space. We introduced LED lighting behind each rib of the steel structure, illuminating the stone in order to highlight and celebrate the arch itself. The juxtaposition of refined materials such as the steel, glass and marble successfully contrast with the stone to emphasise the beauty of the original features. This collaboration of materials works to retain the heart of the arch whilst allowing the space to evolve into a dynamic and contemporary environment.