Q Grill

Restaurants , North American Chalk Farm
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(11 user reviews)
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A US-style grill in Chalk Farm updating American classics with skill and intelligence - and the desserts will give your cardiologist a heart attack.

‘Twat.’ ‘Cow.’ ‘Wanker’: those of us who have ever worked ‘front of house’ in the past would expect this kind of abuse on a Friday night, when service would reach boiling point and the chefs would lose their cool. Afterwards, we’d sit down for a few beers, and all would be forgiven. These days, of course, all the cool, sexy restaurants have open kitchens, so you can see – and hear – all the action.  

So it was with some admiration that we watched the chefs at this US-style grill. On the Friday night of the first official week, the place was heaving, the kitchen struggling to cope. No names were called. The cooks kept calm and carried on, while the equally professional waiting staff gave us sincere apologies, bringing out complimentary cocktails. Our main courses took an hour to arrive – but the food was well worth the wait. Having demolished a terrific seabass ceviche starter, we’d moved on to ‘Southern fried chicken’ – actually two fillets, flat-beaten and breaded like a schnitzel (with Japanese panko breadcrumbs, for a lighter ‘crunch’). Cooked to perfection, it came with another twist: a variant of a persillade (parsley, garlic and oil sauce), here made with wild garlic, and a few capers for sharpness. A side of rough-textured ‘creamed’ corn (spiked with shallots, garlic, coriander and chilli) was so good we’d have happily eaten an enormous plate of it. But praise be to baby Jesus that we’d left room for pudding – an outstanding pecan and bourbon tart so boozy it should have come with an ABV warning. The large, high-ceilinged room is edgy and sexy – dark walls, rusty girders and vintage wooden butchers’ paraphernalia – the music loud and rocky, but make no mistake: this is a slick operation (it’s owned by Des McDonald, one time Ivy chef and former CEO of Caprice Holdings).

Service was polished and attentive throughout, never missing a beat, even when the kitchen was on the point of combusting; we easily forgave them any delays. ‘Thank you so much,’ they beamed as we left, their brows showing not a drop of perspiration. ‘Hope to see you again.’ Hospitality staff of London: this is how it’s done.

 

Venue name: Q Grill
Contact:
Address: 29-33 Chalk Farm Road
London
NW1 8AJ
Opening hours: Open noon-11.30pm Mon-Thur; noon-midnight Fri-Sat; 11am-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Camden Town or Chalk Farm
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £90.
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Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|11
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rpate
Tastemaker

Q Grill offers a civilised dining experience in Camden, providing an alternative from on-the-go market stall eating and the recent influx of high street chains in the area. It’s a restaurant with proper table service, ample space, coherent décor and a culinary concept: grilled and smoked meats and fish (and just about anything else that can withstand the heat of their charcoal pit grill, oven and house smoker).


We ate at Q Grill on our anniversary and booked in advance, but it was relatively quiet on a Thursday night when we arrived. The floorplan is open and spacious and we were seated in view of the open kitchen, where flames licked about and the wafting aroma of barbecue filled our nostrils. The atmosphere is informal and, in the tradition of American-style steakhouses, there’s a well-stocked centrepiece bar, a classic rock soundtrack and frazzled servers hustling by with armloads of charred meats, burgers and beers.


The menu offers a wide selection of the usual suspects, including burgers and grilled meats on their Josper grill- an oven/ grill hybrid that locks in the natural moisture and flavour of the meat- and other standard mains and family sharing plates. Nearly all of the dishes are heavily meat-forward and the sole vegetarian offering is macaroni and cheese. The burgers and buttermilk chicken were proving popular with other diners and were racing out of the kitchen.


The selection of starters is excellent and we were torn between several plates- after a bit of indecision, we decided upon the smoked beef fritters with chipotle sauce and the butterfish with chili jam. The fritters arrived, a soft and moreish salty beef centre crusted in a crispy shell. They were completed with the rich smokiness of the chipotle sauce. The butterfish was delicious: a flaky and meaty white fish that was reminiscent of tuna. The chili jam enhanced the charred skin with a sweet, mild heat.


Intent on experiencing the Josper grill specials, we opted for a half chicken and the whole pork baby back ribs for the main event. The half chicken was a generous portion that was enough for a big appetite and was accompanied by a slaw. There is standard creamy coleslaw and a ‘naked’ slaw offered, and the latter proved a good crunchy pairing with the plump chicken. I was given a mellow barbecue sauce on the side, but admittedly preferred the sauce that my boyfriend received with his ribs, which was much more robust and tangy. The chicken was excellent- the skin was rubbed with a blend of spices and crispy and the meat retained its moisture as promised. The ribs were a celebration of overindulgence, an enormous rack treated with a punchy dry rub and coleslaw on the side. The tender meat fell from the bone and the meat was superb.


We perhaps overestimated the size of our stomachs and had ordered chips and roast sweet potato sides- the sweet potato was absolutely delicious, where hunks of it had been introduced to the grill and their skins were gloriously charred while retaining a soft centre. We were literally unable to entertain the thought of desert at the end of the night, but the peanut butter cookie concoction caught my eye for next time.


After a friendly discussion with a server over the bill, I mentioned that I had heard acclaim for their honeycomb old fashioned. He offered to bring us over two on the house- we luckily obliged, as they were a delicious twist on the usual stiff drink, mellowed by the sweetness of the honeycomb garnish and beautifully aromatic with a heavy dash of bitters.

The food was excellent and we had a memorable night at Q Grill. We experienced only a few hiccups with our servers, as we were first given a half rack of ribs and our sides and drinks were forgotten when our main dishes arrived. Despite this, everyone was very polite and everything was quickly resolved.


I highly recommend Q Grill if you’re looking for a good barbecue joint in Camden, or just to find a relaxed, high quality meal in an area that is otherwise marred with crowds, chaos and characterised with rushed, unfriendly table service.

Alanna S
Tastemaker

The atmosphere in here is lively and despite being aimed at carnivores there were lots of yummy veggie options for my friends. The brunch portions were large and I don't think anyone in our party had any complaints. I would be curious to come back for an evening meal, the drinks selection looked promising! The staff dealt well with us being in a large party and service was prompt and friendly.

Jennifer H

When I came here for dinner it was a fairly quiet Friday night - I had the chicken which I thought was delicious, but my other half chose the flat iron steak which unfortunately was quite on the tough side.


Overall the service was good, our waiter was friendly and welcoming but our drinks took ages to arrive and my food arrived my order of chips had been forgotten. It took a bit of effort to get the waiter's attention again, and then by the time he brought them over I'd almost finished my meal!


Overall a nice experience but nothing outstanding. Glad I've been once but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to return.

Jerry D

I have been here for lunch once and it was very good. I returned, however, early (6:30) on a Friday night and had a miserable time. The service was abysmal and the waiter (I think his name was Leigh) was surly and rude. Foodwise, it is okay. The hummus and steaks were very good, the prawns were nothing special, but the "Market" fish was old. The service is very, very slow both for getting drinks and food. We will not return.

Uzma M

I had such high hopes for this place. Visibly it was wonderful, great seating and atmosphere. The view of the chefs working was an added delight. But the  pretentious menu and general attempt to be a bit avant garde took away from what promised to be a good meal. 

The coleslaw was drab (I recommend chicken shop for some mouthwatering, zingy coleslaw), the chips were nothing you couldn't get from any chip-shop, and the ribs were too dry with a lack luster BBQ sauce. A good sauce can perk up any rib rack!

Though the beef hash was a nice idea with the fried egg and tasty, though nothing that I'd write home about.


The biggest issue was the rather confused waitress who found even a simple request, "can I have mustard please?", confusing and had to make jokes about us asking her for things. What was that about? 


Furthermore you will fume over the cheek of them to add a bottle of water to your table for £1.50 which is then poured from a tap is full view of the customer! 


Overall its not an astonishing eatery, but rather underwhelming. Had they really stuck to being a Tennessee style bar with a simpler menu and focus on less try-hard food, this could have been a great place. 


This place gets two stars; one for the look of the place and one for a superb Diplomatico mixed cocktail that made me smile!

Landl N

There was a small issue cos I thought that "rare" meant it would be like a panda steak or something like that. However, the staff were very helpful and actually pretending to find it amusing to ease my embarrassment! Then when the (beef) steak came it was actually rather quite delicious indeed... ;)

Nick Imrie

"title"


What a disappointment this was and not up to the mark set by Pit Cue (soho) and the likes. All the elements were there - nice refit of the space and hipster staff but the food lets it down badly... The beef hash was tasteless and soulless alongside a fairly dull and zero flavour chicken grill. Such a shame as it's on our doorstep and we really wanted it to be good...

WP D

The culinary location that does what it set out to achieve, gastronomically entertainment in  bespoke style, yet simple and adorning to the taste buds..what al  no fuss eatery's   should set their standards by!..