Date night dinner: Q Grill, Camden
Ever heard of Des McDonald? Perhaps not, but you’ve heard of his work. By 22 years old he’d opened two restaurants in the City of London and become executive chef of Caprice Holdings, founded by Chris Corbin and Jeremy King (yep, of Corbin & King, who’ve presided over the likes of The Wolseley, Le Caprice, The Ivy, Brasserie Zedel and The Delaunay – no biggie).
Such great training (and an even greater love of food) led McDonald to blaze his own path on the London dining scene, starting with the critically acclaimed Fish & Chip Shop in Islington, which we had the pleasure of reviewing last summer and has now sprouted a second branch in the City.
This roaring success cut the pattern for British brasserie Holborn Dining Room and eventually Q Grill – a warm, low-lit BBQ restaurant with a focus on glistening meats and thoroughly good service (with a second branch in the City to boot). With achingly fashionable industrial/rustic decor, soft soul music and fairly high prices (tiger prawns are £19.75, USDA NY strip steak £27.50) the setting screams sophisticated first date, but the food menu (sticky short rib, piled-high pork and super-large steaks) matches London’s current demand for messy, meaty dishes.
Food that demands rolled up sleeves and sticky fingers in a fairly high-end setting (posher than laid-back Porky’s down the road) is a tricky combination, but Q Grill is carried by the quality of the food and wonderful staff.
It’s a warm and inviting space, an open kitchen bustling at the back while waiters recommend their favourite dishes and top up drinks. The cocktail menu is a dream – exotic coupes and highballs catch the eye, but the smoky Montecristo Daiquiris (cigar-infused, no less) were so unusual we had three.
To eat, we ordered a spiced cornbread waffle with maple whipped butter (a taste of the recently-launched brunch menu, full of Bloody Marys, sweet-cured bacon and waffles – fabulous) followed by pepper-rubbed Louisiana short rib with sweet potato mash and chargrilled tiger prawns with pickled chilli butter and blackened lime, at the waiter’s recommendation.
Both were perfectly cooked, and happily shared – our only regret being we had no room to try the sticky pig’s cheeks with cheesy grits, or a grilled special from the Josper grill (Hawksmoor were among the first to make this cooking method popular in London – and it really is special , with special prices to match – baby back ribs are £15 without sides, 10oz USDA prime rib eye £30).
Dessert was a Boston cream pie (not unlike a Wagon Wheel) and a sticky toffee pudding – both good, but nothing compared to the sticky sensation that was the main affair. We’ve since drooled over the peanut butter cookie stack on Instagram, and will be back to give this a go.
A kind word from Paul the manager (supremely friendly and knowledgeable about our favourite subject, cocktails) and we went out into the night – taking note that the restaurant frontage is in the final stages of acquiring an outdoor terrace. Yet another reason to visit (but perhaps wait until you know your date a little better – it just wouldn’t do to order salad).
Amy @ FashionBite xx
Address: 29-33 Chalk Farm Rd, Camden Town, Nw1 8AJ
Tel:020 7267 2678