Kew Grill Review
Best for: Celebrity chef spotting; carnivores; big appetites; getting away from the city.
I started the night by losing a bet. 'How many, do you reckon?' my companion for the evening had said. I was cocky. 'Definitely fewer than five,' I'd said. We were betting on how busy the restaurant I was about to review was going to be. 'So you reckon there won't be more than five full tables,' he said. 'Tables?' I scoffed. 'Please. I reckon there won't even be five people!'
I was certain I was on to a winner. It was an icy cold Monday night bang smack at that point early in the year when the credit card bills have already swallowed up next month’s paycheck, itself still weeks away. When I'd met friends for dinner two days earlier at Marco Pierre White's Knightsbridge effort, Frankie’s, we'd virtually had the place to ourselves. 'It's this time of year,' the manager at Frankie’s had told us, gesturing to the empty tables. 'No one wants to eat out.'
If that was Central London on a Saturday night, how well would rival celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson and his Kew Grill, with it's 25-minute train journey from Waterloo, fare on this blustery Monday?
Exceedingly well, as it turns out.
Arriving at Kew Grill, the (albeit compact) restaurant was at least three-quarters full, and had a warm and welcoming atmosphere. This was definitely a good sign, for AWT, although not for my competitive streak. Was it the menu that was drawing in the crowds?
A quick glance and I’d decided what it was that had tempted these red-blooded diners out into the wintery night; what else but red meat, of course. Great slabs of beef made up most of the menu, either in the form of steaks or minced up and made into burgers. The menu and website is at pains to point out that all beef is Scottish and hung for 35 days. There’s even a good chunk of precious menu space devoted to a guide showing how to order your steak, from the adventurous Blue - which is “seared on the outside, barely warm on the inside” - to Dad’s favourite, Well Done - described as “grey brown & no juices to speak of”.
So far, so beefy. The trouble was, as usual, me.
My date for the night was happy to chow down on his vast and tasty chicken liver starter before devouring the equally huge and perfectly cooked medium-rare fillet steak with chips, but I'd made another bet, this time with myself, a pesky pescatarian. I'd wagered there’d be little for me on this meaty menu. But once again I was proved wrong in my assumptions as my awkward diner status was more than catered for by the handful of tempting fish dishes hidden among the beef.
I started, joyfully, with a tender tuna loin and freshly dressed Asian salad, followed by yet another hefty, flavorsome portion of herby-crusted cod from the lengthy and interesting specials menu. And lovely they both were too. That said, pure vegetarians would definitely lack choice, and vegans might want to rally together to organise some sort of protest demonstration. Us pescatarians, though, we’re just fine at Kew Grill.
While you can’t fault the food, don’t go along expecting the latest in molecular gastronomy. In fact, you could say that, overall, the menu is a touch on the safe side. Some choices like the prawn cocktail and mixed grill, seen alongside the big portions, jazzy throw cushions, and clip-framed prints on barebrick walls at times made me feel like I was eating in the annex of a mid-range chain hotel (or, if I’m being less kind, a Harvester).
The quality of ingredients, the cooking, and the deftness and charm of the service were enough to snap me out of that and remind me why they were charging the big bucks, with the pricier steaks around the £30 mark.
While the menu is wholesome and accessible, if a touch safe, the wine list is vast and aficionados will have fun digging into the options on offer. Even cheapos like me who lazily opt for the house wine have to look a bit harder, as there's five affordable house options on offer for both red and white (we went for a perky Sauvignon Blanc).
So, the restaurant I'd gambled on being empty on a windy Monday night stayed full until we left happy and full of hefty portions of hearty food. Suddenly it wasn't a mystery why the place was so full. Already a hit with the Kew residents, it's worth the trek for city dwellers looking for a bit of suburban respite. Give it a try, you'll like it, I bet. ...read more
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