Located a few minutes’ walk from City Road’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ sits at McQueen Shoreditch. Named after Steve McQueen (The King of Cool) the actor and not the once locally-based designer, it is well known as a post-work cocktail spot. The venue however also includes its recently opened steak restaurant that is fittingly named The Grill, and the menu has been curated by former Hawksmoor head chef, Richard Sandiford.
Connected to the main space, but with its own entrance, the restaurant gives more of a nod to industrial glamour, featuring exposed brick walls, an Art Deco mirrored bar and an abundance of fashionably worn, leather Chesterfields. Unsurprisingly, images of the venue’s namesake also feature across an assortment of knowingly kitsch, baroque frames. Interior specifics aside, The Grill makes for a warm and inviting situation, with our host Bilal proving equally welcoming.
In a room devoted to a screen legend we started with a cocktail, opting for an aptly-named Popcorn Old Fashioned. Intrigued by the combination of whisky and eau de popcorn, ultimately the only unsatisfactory thing about this unexpected mix was the speed at which it disappeared. It is definitely one for those with a sweet tooth, as is the saccharine Lady Hawk – a rose-tinted blend of Campari, pink grapefruit and an egg white, served in a retro-feel mini coupe.
Cocktails were followed by starters, which comprised of crab cakes and roasted raw beets, served with watercress and whipped, rosemary goat’s cheese. Caramelised on the outside, the crab cakes were flavoursome, light and an ideal preamble to the filling steak to come. When it arrived, the 300g British beef fillet was cooked to medium rare perfection and was accompanied by a 2014 Maycas Sumag Pinot Noir. The light Chilean red allowed the delicate dry-aged flavours of the meat to shine and provided a needed balance to the richness of the peppercorn sauce, which was thoughtfully served on the side.
Already feeling pretty full we moved on to desert. The standard fare of nearly every gastro pub, we feared the worst when we saw that cheesecake and sticky toffee pudding loomed large as primary dessert offerings. Nevertheless, simple and done well is hard to beat and ultimately both were just that with the cheesecake’s light and well-balanced execution pushing it into pole position (just).
Overall the service was attentive, the food was good with the fillet steak in particular standing out. The overall ambience was relaxed and inductive to conversation and the interesting cocktail offerings definitely warrant a return visit.
In sum if you are partial to complex cocktails and simple but well-executed food, The Grill at McQueen is definitely worth a visit. And if you’re in the mood for festivity, the adjoining cocktail bar also looked fun, although the generous portions may put the blockers on any immediate dancing.
Words by Adam Zorgani