This year we reckon Chalk Farm Road will become a real food destination – especially for red-blooded carnivores out there (we’re guessing that’s a few of you).
Of course the strip has long been packed with decent international options (from Caribbean staple Cotton’s to Thanh Binh to Feng Sushi), and a special note should be made for Made in Camden, the most unassuming Michelin-rated diner in north London.
But, up at the bridge end, a chopstick’s hurl from the cluster of new openings in Camden Lock Place, things have been gathering pace: and from February, joining hipster joints Porky’s and Pieminster, will be Q Grill. Its USP? To “take diners on a road trip” and bring the Southern US states to London.
So far, so meh. But this addition to NW1 promises to add a side order of glam as it’s the second restaurant from Des McDonald, who last year opened the acclaimed, and very stylish, Fish & Chip Shop in Islington.
To see what the fuss was about, we bagged two stools at the counter of the Upper Street chippie on Tuesday. Bang on-trend, the interior is all 1940s stylings, with marble bar, nice fonts and panelling, and an emphasis on simple dishes done well: buttery cornish slip soles, perfectly opaque roasted cod with mushrooms and bacon, deeply flavoursome mushy peas. Not cheap mind, but we were only drinking fizzy water (pleasantly free) which kept the bill down.
And the concept for Q Grill is, we hear, simple(ish) too: “Memphis meets ‘farm to grill’ meets Camden Town”(whatever that means). The 125-seater “rustic” interior will boast neon signage, open kitchen and a combination of booth seating and high stools. And they’ve poached the head chef of Hix, Phil Eagle, as well as a couple of ex-Wolseley front of house types.
“We’ll be serving the highest quality authentic American-style BBQ to Londoners, ” says McDonald, “coupling the sweet tasting BBQ flavours of a traditional Memphis-style Smokehouse with our own unique approach”. And so expect raw, grilled and smoked things aplenty, from scallop ceviche and blackened tiger shrimp to pecan wood-roasted chicken; while the inevitable pulled pork sandwiches, ribs and hotdogs should – we hope – be up there with Soho’s finest.
And if you want a soupcon of irony, head to – where else? – the dessert menu: coke floats, banoffee cheesecake, salted caramel & peanut butter puddings and even “lemonade jello”.
Thank goodness we’ve banned sugar from our diet, otherwise we’d be salivating – non-ironically – already.
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