Wednesday, 18 September 2013


Grillshack has thankfully replaced the execrable Alphabet Bar on Beak Street, and early signs are positive. First impressions are a slightly baffling array of innovation; no reservations standard but you can sign up for a text when your table is ready. But once you’re in, the options for ordering are overwhelming. Do you download their app and go through that? Or perhaps at the DIY till points? Or yes, there is a counter. Which most people seem to do.

The menu is edited fairly tightly – the burger with add-ons (my newly gluten-free other half is appeased here, but at a 75p surcharge absent from the admittedly higher priced Honest Burgers), a steak, some chicken. Basic yes, and not ground-breaking so far. Although crowd pleasers equate to  crowds and this has certainly been the case on both visits of mine.

Grillshack’s £5-ish burger is my nap here: a juicy, decent sized patty, just pink enough for the purists among us, pretty damn tasty. Bun replete with a light bead of sweat, and bacon proper. 

The steak with shoestring fries is value for the meat alone; a rib-eye supposedly but pulverised into the sort of escalope you might expect in a steak sandwich. No complaints at a £10 price point. Their regular fries have a fantastic seasoning which eclipses the rather lacklustre shoestrings too, which need a touch of sexing up, April Bloomfield style.

But food isn’t the main draw here. It’s serviceable, nay, quite good, but the ease and charm of Grillshack won this pig over. At such great value it’s definitely positioning itself as a Flat Iron, Five Guys and Shake Shack contender, and leaving the higher end of those markets well alone. The key will be repeat business, bolstered by service levels. Which are fantastic by the way; truly attentive and friendly.

Richard Caring’s stewardship of Le Caprice, Soho House Group and others over the years has proven that punters return hungrily again and again for 7/10 food when you give them 9/10 service. As long as it’s decent, great people add the magic finishing touch to make the occasion. Grillshack is a fast food version of that clever approach.

Yes I’m a predictable cynic and Grillshack is an achingly portable concept, probably conceived as such, but so what? Better more of this than some of the rubbish out there now, and nobody would object to W1 service levels radiating outwards, with the food people actually want to eat.

Grillshack on Urbanspoon

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