Around five minutes stroll from either Chalk Farm or Camden tube is the Q-Grill, and no introduction necessary with the main method of cooking here. Plenty of smoky dishes on the menu using their house smoker, in fact they have a special smoked beer ‘Rib Tickler’ designed to be paired with one of the rib dishes on the menu. I had a small sip of the beer just to try, and could have easily had a pint of the stuff.
The vibe is very Camden, the décor channelling a beach bbq shack, and has an open kitchen on view. Our waiter, Armand, had impeccable customer service and clearly knew the menu well, he suggested his favourites for the starters – to which we had all 3 between us both.
Baked Butternut Hummus (£6.00), not the usual hummus as not a chickpea in sight! A vivid orange pool of spicy thick butternut puree, adorned with fat feta chunks lightly charred, and some cubed butternut too. Homemade flatbreads charred & chewy make good for mopping up all that nutrition in neon.
The Seabass Ceviche (£9.75) was so lovely, it couldn’t have been any fresher. A healthily herbed dish spiked with flecks of chilli. So many ceviche can be spoiled by being overly acidic, but the proportions here were spot on. This dish also came served with golden boat-like shaped strips of fried plantain which provided some texture contrast against the silky sea bass.
Our final starter was rather odd, but totally moreish. The Spiced Cornbread Waffle (£3.50) which was screaming out “WHERE DO I BELONG”, being served with an absolutely heavenly scoop of maple syrup whipped butter, but then all of a sudden the chilli kicks in and the whole dish makes perfect sense. I will be dreaming about that naughty dirty maple butter for the foreseeable future.
For our mains we decided to maintain sharing (there is a separate menu for sharing platters but we wanted to make our own up!). Chargrilled Tiger Prawns (£19.75) came in a generous portion, although the unnecessary inclusion of the heads on the plate gave the impression there were more. Lovely lime and chilli notes, and prawns perfectly plump and cooked beautifully. For me this was the star of the meal. This really did make me feel like I was on a beach, and then wish that I was.
What should have been the star of the meal, was the Rare Breed Pork Baby Back Ribs (£15.00) off the specials menu. Even though the flesh was as you’d like ribs to be, flaky, falling and soft- its spice rubbed exterior had been burnt leaving a bitter taste on your palette. Even the chipotle sauce served alongside the ribs could not act as flavour saviour, unfortunately being watery and tasteless. Again, like the sauce, the pot of ‘slaw tasted tired and far from the freshness we had experienced from everything else on the table. Such a shame!
Parmesan Truffled Fries (£4.00), served beautifully crisp, smoky, and with a heavy shaving of parmesan- I don’t normally have fries so to have a touch of truffle in there too was a total treat. Green Beans (£3.75) – sadly these were extremely greasy, I’m not entirely confident how these were cooked, as the smoked aioli they were smothered in made it all overly oily. I think it would be received better if the aioli was in a pot on the side.
After the waffle as a starter and the fries, we were struggling for room for dessert. Our waiter suggested the peanut butter cookie stack but a stack at that point felt like our Everest. But there is always room for ice cream, right? Homemade delights, (£1.50 per scoop) we chose firstly the peanut butter, which was really well balanced with just the right amount of peanuts. Overdoing the PB can make dishes claggy. Lastly, a G&T sorbet which would have been a crime not to have picked. Refreshing, icy and strong in citrus, you could definitely detect the gin! An odd combination peanut butter and gin, but we didn’t even care.
It’s such a shame that our ribs were ruined by being overcooked on the outside, and the ribs dish as a whole being a little underwhelming with flavour (other than burnt). The starters were fantastic and the homemade ice cream were both winners, and I wish we did have room for the peanut butter cookie stack as I’m sure it would have been cookie monster heaven.
The food was delivered to the table at a good speed and with stupendous service. I would definitely eat here again, especially as you are also presented with a £20 gift card off your next visit (you must register the card online initially). Q-Grill also has another restaurant opening this Summer, check their website for details. Home delivery is also available through Deliveroo.
Reviewed by @LohanJordan
ADDRESS: 29 – 33 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AJ
PHONE: 020 7267 2678
PRICE: ££££ (explained)
STAR RATING: *** (explained)
TIPPING POLICY: http://q-grill.co.uk/camden