Q Grill, Camden
Des McDonald is a big deal. Formerly bossing it at The Ivy and Le Caprice, he is currently building a food empire in London with restaurants including the Fish and Chip Shop, Holborn Dining Room and Q Grill Camden.
Q Grill is a beast of a place and knowing what Camden can be like (hello Gilga) my concern was that it would be full of tourists en famille or out-of-town daters. Not so.
Walking into the roomy industrial-meets-rustic restaurant is a similar experience to stumbling upon Pizza East at the grimy end of Portobello market. It is infinitely better looking than its neighbors and sucks in the only cool cats in the area like a vacuum, leaving everywhere else in Camden slightly bereft. Apart from friends catching up post work (ASOS girls? Check) and couples in booths, don’t be surprised if you catch a scruffy boy band having a quick photoshoot in the corner, or a singer songwriter slamming whiskey at the bar.
Memphis style BBQ fare as well as the odd delicate dish like a smokey butternut squash hummus with burnt feta and charred flatbread and a divine prosciutto plate with figs and honey. In terms of hefty man grub, there’s a pit roast chicken to chow down on or a good ol’ steak. My top date pick is the blackened butterfish with guac and pickled papaya. Dessert is obscenely good (bourbon and peacan tart) but leave that amount of sugar for a mate date.
And booze-wise, the best Old Fashioned around for those with a sweet tooth – honeycomb melted straight into the bourbon. Lordy.
Don’t make the mistake of walking from Camden station – it’s such a buzz kill. Meet at Kentish Town and wander down. Make sure you’ve begged for a big booth – warm up charming Irish operations manager Paul and he’ll sort you out. Decide against wine, order a Seasonal Julep to start and agree to share everything. Don’t finish your plates as you’ll be too full to function. As the meal goes on, slide your way slowly round the banquette until you’re side by side, drunk and full. Kiss after the first sip of your Old Fashioned – goddamn this broad/fella tastes good. Stay real late and drink until you’re horizontal. Then call a cab and suggest a belly rub back at yours.
Warning to the lads: If this is a first date, perhaps avoid building up a rapport with Paul – you really don’t want the competition.
I imagine sprawling families might think this an apt place to come in the daytime, so date strictly at night.
3. It’s a lot of food but if you make a concerted effort with the bourbon you could bump this up to a 4.