If you’ve ever been to America you’ll know that diners are a staple of the culture and way of life. VQ Restaurant, now with three branches in London, is looking to fill a diner gap here in London, and it succeeds.
With already established locations in Bloomsbury and Chelsea, and now Notting Hill, VQ (Vingt-Quartre, or 24) offers American style food in a restaurant with a very modern design which makes you feel that you are not in a greasy spoon cafe but in a very classy and posh diner.
What is not posh are the prices. Like American diners, VQ offers an extreme range of food that you can have anytime, including breakfast. How many restaurants do that? If you fancy buttermilk pancakes, at say, midnight, they’re there to order. If you want a hamburger or pasta or salad at say, 11:00 a.m., feel free! As a matter of fact, VQ has just one menu, and not separate menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner – brilliant!
A friend and I visited the new Notting Hill branch, just a few steps away from the tube, and were placed in a very cozy table in the back, next to a wall that reminded us of a lava-lamp. Since the menu is so big, and with sections such as Burgers Hot Dogs and Sandwiches, Classics (Fish & Chips, Chicken Milanese, Ribeye Steak and Ribs), Omelettes and 24 hour breakfast, not including the starters and sides, plus drinks, it took a bit of time for us to decide. I went with the Club Sandwich with sweet potato fries. What I received was a massive club sliced in four sections containing chicken, bacon, melted cheddar, lettuce, tomato and mustard mayonnaise. It was so big I could not finish it all, though it didn’t help that I had also ordered the chorizo sautéed new potatoes and red onions as a delicious starter which was a meal in itself. And at only £9.95, the club sandwich is a excellent deal and could be shared by two people alongside starters or desserts. My friend ordered the breaded butterfly king prawns with sweet chilli sauce as a starter – at £7.95 it was quite a steep price for just four, but they were good. His main course was the ribeye steak, which was cooked to perfection, accompanied by the delicately smooth peppercorn sauce, but at £21.95 it’s not quite a steal. As a side dish (what was I thinking?), I ordered the cole slaw which I thought would be a complement to the sandwich. It was a massive massive portion for just £3.95, but too mayonnaisey for my tastes. Deciding that we could not stuff our faces with banoffee pie, apple crumble, eton mess (you’ll have to go to VQ so they can explain it to you), brownie or drizzle cake, we both went for the fruit salad. It was extremely divine. Soaked in mango juice, with all sorts of fruit in a medium sized bowl, beautifully presented – one of the best fruit salads I’ve had in a very long time. Their drinks menu is just as diverse as their food menu. This includes selections of white rose and red wines, vodka, gin, whiskey blends, bourbons, tequila, rums, a great beer and cider selection, as well as hot iced and soft drinks, plus virgin cocktails. We had what was the best bargain on the menu – fruit smoothies – ranging from £2.95 to £4.50 – served in jam jars. I went for the Six-a-day, which included spinach, banana, melon, pineapple, grape and apple – delicious. My friend went for the Berry Boost, a selection of three berries. Great bargains for very delicious and refreshing drinks.
Having previously visited the Bloomsbury branch, which is open all night, every night, I’ve had the burgers and they are much better than the burgers you get at Five Guys or Shake Shack (and starting at £6.95 a better value as well). They come in several types from chicken to pulled pork to falafel, to of course beef. VQ Restaurants also have great pasta choices (Mac ’n’ Cheese, Penne, Linguine with Smoked Salmon, and Spaghetti Bolognaise), an excellent salad selection (Caesar, Cobb, Salmon Lentil and Quinoa, or the VQ Salad which includes pomegranate, feta, baby beetroot, butternut squash, mixed leaves, honey roasted pine nuts, dijon vinaigrette.
So a visit to VQ is a must, anytime – day or night. Their restaurants are relaxed, friendly and are really cool, all in central locations, and with very friendly and attentive staff. Hats off to Geoff at the Notting Hill branch. A very nice and smart young French man, he took very good care of us, who loves his job, and is perhaps one of the happiest guys in London. And that’s what a visit to VQ diner will make you feel, happy.
Reviewed by: Tim Baros
Address: Notting Hill – 24 Pembridge Road, W11 3HL –
020 3745 7224 –
7am every weekday morning (8am Saturday & Sunday) until 3am on Thursday-Saturday, 1am on Monday-Wednesday and midnight on Sunday
Bloomsbury – 111A Great Russell Street London WC1B 3NQ – 020 7636 5888 – 24 hours
Chelsea – 325 Fulham Road London SW10 9QL – 020 7376 7224 – 24 hours
Star Rating: ★★★★★ (explained)
VQ Restaurants serve all-day breakfast / brunch, lunch and dinner, with cocktail serve as well
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.