Review: Grillstock

In his Tab debut, Bristol’s toughest food critic JAY CUNNINGHAM is distinctly unimpressed by this mock American grillhouse

Grillstock can only be described as vulgar. A crude imitation of the American grillhouse, it made me feel as though I was trapped in an American version of a Foster’s advert.

We were greeted by a tattooed man wearing a flatcap and told to order at the back of the restaurant before taking a perch on the communal table. On loitering at the rear for about four minutes – with several nonchalant waitresses passing by – I finally cracked and asked one of the chefs whether we could order.

I opted for the ‘pulled pork’ at a very reasonable £8. My friend ordered ‘babyback ribs’ at £11. Both dishes came inclusive of fries, slaw, a ‘hot-link’ sausage, corn bread and house pickles.

A vegetarian’s nightmare

I was delighted to see there was free water available to drink (students perhaps their target market) but was extremely disappointed to be given a warm can of Coca Cola. As Grillstock aims to replicate an authentic ‘Southern’ experience, I was surprised that they did not serve Coca Cola in glass bottles, or even with a glass. I may be being pedantic though.

The beers on offer were interesting but expensive. I appreciate some are imported, but £3.50 for a 330ml can of ‘Boston’ lager is excessive.

Conversation was inaudible due to loud rock music. The table was so wide that we felt detached and alone; in this sense, Grillstock was successful in its replication of America.  The clinical lighting did not help.

The condiments looked tasty but the bottles had not been replenished. On visiting the only toilet in the restaurant, I discovered that the entire seat was covered in snot-like urine; not very good considering that women had to use this toilet too. The chefs were not wearing whites and did not have hats… I know we were meant to be in the Deep South but surely we could count on the hygiene regulations of New Labour? Apparently not.

The food arrived after twenty minutes. It was authentically presented on trays and we both really liked the variety. The slaw was fresh and crunchy but slightly over-seasoned. The fries were hot, the sausage was also tasty and the corn bread was pleasant, though stodgy.

The meat was really disappointing. My pulled pork was slightly tough and had not actually been ‘pulled’. My friend’s ribs were so disgustingly overcooked that when he tried to tear the meat from the bone, the rib was flung two feet to his left. The rib-meat was tough and the BBQ sauce was cold. Though the pulled pork is prepared on site, I was saddened to learn that their burgers are made offsite by ‘John Sheppard’, whoever that is…

I would not recommend Grillstock, however, it really does not matter what I think: ‘Jason Donervan’ has survived, after all.