I doubt too many people remember Alphabet Bar that used to be on this spot. It wasn’t that it was a bad bar, just that it had no character, and never seemed to have many people in. Thankfully Grillshack has replaced it, and they have done brilliantly with the makeover. It’s another classic Soho trendy diner, but the good thing about it is that it isn’t trying as hard as the rest of the Soho joints to be cool. As I keep saying, I’m bored of the bare-brick walls and nose-to-tail tattooed (and of course bearded) staff. Grillshack has bright yellow walls and is just a little bit more laid back.
The set-up is simple. You get a few choices- basically chicken, a burger or steak- then you go up Nandos-style and order it yourself. A few minutes later it arrives at your table. And they do refillable soda (£2.25)! I always love that. They say you only get one refill but I doubt anybody really sticks to that.
First up was buttermilk chicken nuggets with a sweet chilli mayonnaise. For £2.50 these really do make McDonald’s look bad. I’d go as far to say that they are even better than the ones that Spuntino knocks up.
I went for the flattened rump steak and shoestring fries with smoked butter (£9.95). I was surprised that they’d managed to keep it moist and cook it medium rare even though it was so thin. I would have liked a few more licks from the grill though. It needed to be more of a caramel brown like all good steaks, this one was just a bit anaemic. The shoestring fries needed to be crispier as well. But with lashings of the Grillshack sauce, which was a really good BBQ, I wolfed them all down and polished the plate clean. One other complaint is the bloody knife I had to eat it with. I know this was a flattened rump steak but come on, you don’t have to give me something this flimsy. I imagine prisoners get sharper knives than this!
My partner went for the double cheese burger with fries (it came to about £10.50) and it was sadly overdone. They’d promised it medium, but this one had the life cooked out of it, and we all now that doesn’t give a burger much hope. It was a little on the bland and greasy side as well, and given that Soho is pretty damn hot on the burger front this fell way short of it’s competition. If you are only going to offer a few things on the menu then you need to make sure they are all spot on. And if you’re a grill then you need to make sure you cook the meat right. So they need a kick up the arse here.
Although the food wasn’t the best, I still liked Grillshack. It’s cheap and easy and has a real good feel to it, and the music was great. On the table next to us the half chicken looked good, and there’s a lip-smacking list of puddings, so I’ll save the burger shift to the experts (Honest Burger) but still come back.
Service: N/a (it’s self-service basically)
61–63 Beak Street, W1F 9SL