Think locally. Act hillbilly. A very fitting catchphrase for a restaurant that is different to many others in the City. Yes there’s plenty of BBQs, but there’s just something about Grillstock that draws you in and makes you part of the family!
American family-style BBQ
This place is very loud, a little in your face but in all the right ways. Perfect for a night with a group of friends or for a date night of the most relaxed kind – although maybe not a first date as it can get a tad messy!
The making of the meat
We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the kitchen and an insight into how the meat is made so unbelievable good. In terms of the smoking process it’s all about low and slow. Basically they take big hunks of meat and cook them for hours on a really low heat adding their own blend of rub seasoning and then adding a good BBQ sauce right at the end so that it doesn’t burn. The restaurant smokers and the portable Grillstock smoker are all custom made and imported from the US. You can see most of the kitchen from the restaurant so you’ll get a good view and ask any of the staff if you want to know more.
The menu is pretty straight forward, the most complex thing about it is deciding which delicious dish you’re going to go for at risk of having complete food envy for others. Once you’ve settled on something, orders are placed at the bar.
We thought you should have an overview of … pretty much everything … so here’s what we tried:
Hillbilly Chilli (£10) – this is a chunky chilli made with brisket from the pit and blended with chillis, cocoa and Jack Daniel’s. It’s very hot and spicy so not for the faint-hearted but it is so packed full of flavour so will not disappoint those looking for a thrill. It’s served up with sour cream, nacho cheese, jalapeños and a bread roll perfect for dipping.
Smokestack Burger (£8.50) – there are so many tasty things on the menu that it would be hard to consider a simple burger, but despite the array of BBQ meats on offer here, I have to admit the burgers are also a great option. They are cooked rare – which is quite rare (sorry) – and keeps them succulent and juicy. The Smokestack is spicy and zingy with soft, cheesy pulled pork and fry sauce – which is a house blended mayo with pickles and yummy bits of magic within.
Baby Back Ribs (£11/£16) – great ribs come in all sort of styles and flavours, these are quite unique but delicious all the same. The ribs are lovingly massaged with a mix of not just spices (as you often find in BBQ) but also with herbs, which are deeply soaked into the meat as it’s cooked low ‘n’ slow. This method of cooking leaves the pork crispy on the edges and soft towards the centre – the best way in my humble opinion! To finish, they are coated in a thick and sticky sauce, more like a glaze. Prepare to get messy but very happy.
Beef Brisket (£13) – smoked whole overnight to keep in the flavour, the brisket is sliced fresh to order. If you are less of a fan of BBQ sauce and stronger flavours, the brisket is flavourful but in a more subtle way. Soft, flaky beef which I believe perfectly complements the mac ‘n’ cheese.
BBQ Chicken (£9/£13) – the chicken is also smoked, dusted with seasoning and finished with a large helping of BBQ sauce. The meat is so well cooked that it falls apart as you sink a fork into it. Add some extra classic BBQ sauce if you want that extra bit of indulgence.
Wings (£9) – you might think with the list above that we wouldn’t need any additions to our order, but I’m a sucker for chicken wings. These are seasoned and smoked like the other meats, but are fried to add a sumptuous crispy texture. Add a bit of hot sauce and they become utterly irresistible.
Pulled Pork (£9) – slow cooked for over 18 hours, this meat is tender and delicious in it’s own right, however, it is lower down my list compared to some of the delights available. If you do go for it, team it with slaw and beans and add a few lashings of hot sauce.
What about sides?
Burnt Ends (£4) – the definition of burnt ends is essentially a divine piece of meat taken from brisket in the smoking process – how they are made is disputed though, some say it is taken from a certain part of the joint whereas others state that the meat is returns to the smoker for further cooking. We’re not sure which Grillstock does, why would they reveal that? But we can promise that they are heavenly.
House Slaw (£1.50) – this has a great raw taste, it helps to cut through the sweetness of the BBQ sauces and refreshes the palette. While many people think that slaw should be ridden with mayo this is a myth that needs to be squahed – this is coleslaw not slaw. The Grillstock slaw has a light vinaigrette which sits much better although may disappoint those who like to indulge.
Mac ‘n’ Cheese (£4) – the mac here is less cheesy, more creamy. It’s pleasant but I have to say it really made me want to add a ton more gooey cheese on top.
It may seem a bit odd that we’re including a section all about the BBQ sauce, but hey, this is an American BBQ joint and the sauces are a large part of what sets these guys apart! There’s a choice of two on the table to add to your already bursting with flavour food. The classic BBQ is oaky and smoky with a sweet note, kind of like caramelised onions, which goes beautifully with chicken. There is also a hot BBQ sauce, which has a smoking heat and a tangy layer which is somewhere between a BBQ sauce and a peri peri – awesome with chips!
Want to share?
One of the awesome things about Grillstock are the sharing platters. If you’re like me and simply can’t make up your mind then you can go for the Smokehouse Combo which lets you choose three different meats from the list. If there’s two of you, why not try the BBQ Share Plate a tantalising mix of pulled pork, brisket, ribs and chicken, coupled with BBQ beans. Oh and let’s not forget the ultimate combo, which I’d recommend for three or four people (maybe add an extra side for the latter) the Grand Champion which has a bit of almost everything – pulled pork, brisket, chicken, ribs, burnt ends, mac ‘n’ cheese, chilli cheese fries, slaw, BBQ beans, pickles and a bread roll. Be prepared for some meat sweats to ensue!
While not the longest list I’ve come across, there is a fair amount of variety on the drinks menu. A collection of beers, cocktails, spirits and soft drinks and a couple of wines just in case.
My favourite was the Southern Belle – Jack Daniels honey shaken with lemon juice, sugar and a dash of egg white. This is a great example of sweet and sour flip drink. The honey caresses your throat and makes you feel a bit warm and fuzzy while the lemon make you screw your face up; all with a smooth egg flip texture. Amazing for after a long day at the office!
The crew at Grillstock are the craziest, friendliest bunch around. If you want to feel like family then you can’t go wrong here. They are also great at recommendations, although they’ll find it hard to recommend just one thing, they love their own food as much as I do!
Grillstock, 198 Hoe St, London, E17 4BF
T: 020 8520 9108
Mon-Sat – 11am-11pm
Sun – 11am – 10.30pm