Grillstock review

In food on May 9, 2015 at 9:19 pm

So after a day where my partner fought fascism and I did the laundry we decided to give Grillstock in the new Empire Bunker a try. After having a lot of actual American BBQ food 10 years ago during a stint working in Kansas City, Missouri, I was quite curious at a British interpretation.

The 'stripped back' interior.

The ‘stripped back’ interior.

So as we came in I was hit by the sound; on a busy Saturday night the atmoshere was being fuelled by a lound soundtrack. Even though it was busy we were seated in 5 minutes, although it helps being a couple as we fit into a small window seat.

Nope, did not choose the death by meat option.

Nope, did not choose the death by meat option.

The system relies on customers making their choice from the menu and ordering at the bar. Unfortunatly the bar is an actual bar with a number of bar stools around it. If you want to order food you need to squeeze between the boozers and shout. I have a particular aversion to barflys; they are between me and beer and seem to begrudge the fact I have to shove past them to get served. It would be nice if Grillstock cleared this space a bit. There’s a good selection of beers, leaning towards the American style bottle craft ale. Sadly despite all the Americana there are no milkshakes.

I decided to start light...

I decided to start light…

Still the staff were prompt and soon I was returning with a Pistonhead lager and diet coke. While we waited for our food I had a good look around. Like its neighbour Turtle Bay it has a very fake ‘stripped back’ look.  As much as I moan about how ubiquitous  hipster shabby chic is I quite like it. But Grillstock just looks like a chain restaurant playing at being down and dirty. While we waited I looked for wifi; I found a connection on my phone but it was locked and the waitress said it wasn’t yet available. This kinda shows that the restaurant is still bedding in. No plates? Typical! I went for the Smokestack Burger (my partner the half rack of ribs). They came with fresh coleslaw, interesing lime tinged pickles and fries. The fries looked nice with seasoning on them but were rather dry and needed support of the BBQ sauce and ketchup. The burger had pulled pork on it. I’ve been off this for a couple of years after a food poisoning experience followed by a lousy pulled pork bap. However this was very nice, full of flavour and tender. The burger was nice; plain but well made. Typical ‘American’ plastic cheese and a simple white bun; no brioche bread here. Overall the food was nice but not the flavourfest I found in the states. I think next time I’ll try the chilli burger.

Dessert? Only in liquid form.

Dessert? Only in liquid form.

The highlight of the meal for me was Grillstock’s own Pale Ale, apparently brewed in Bristol. Three hop varieties means it has a good sharp edge to challenge food flavours but is not like being punched with a bag of hops (like the Brewdog IPA, also on the menu). I’ll have that again. Overall I liked Grillstock but it’s not a place I think you *have* to try. It’s like our own TGI Friday substitute with more interesing food and better drinks. I’d like to try on a quieter night or maybe a lunch time. I think it will do well and fills a gap in the choice we have.


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