Sixty-something serial restaurateur Richard Caring (who owns The Ivy, Pizza East and much, much more) is slowly taking over our city. I sometimes picture him sat on a swivelly chair, stroking a white cat, bwa-ha-ha-ing at us for lining his pockets (and given his magnificently bouffant hair, he can be extra smug). But while opening a burger-steak-chicken joint in Soho is a bit like putting a giant cash register out on the street and waiting for us to comes and stuff it with fivers, you’ve got to hand it to Caring – he gives good restaurant.
This once-gloomy site (formerly the Alphabet Bar) now features sunshine yellow walls and semi-industrial stylings (white ‘brick’ tiles, open kitchen, dark woods): all very predictable. But the kitchen is where Grillshack shows its evil genius, in not trying to gild the lily. Our burger had no show-off toppings, but its simple components, from the soft and airy brioche bun to the pink-middled patty and smoky bacon, made for a terrific bite. We also enjoyed a nicely charred piece of flat-beaten rump steak over a generous heap of shoestring fries (the size-zero kind) and marvelled at the dish’s under-a-tenner price tag.
Only the wait after ordering – 35 minutes on our visit, in spite of fast-food-joint counter ordering – and an over-onioned radish ’slaw showed flaws in an otherwise slick operation. But it’s early days yet, and Mr Caring probably has a button to dispatch any inadequate staff directly into a fiery pit.