By Laura Heads, Food Writer
With the current weather making summer feel like an eternity ago and like it may never come again, it is very easy to find yourself pining for that sunshine fun, and more importantly, food.
Now to me, summer means BBQs, beer, friends and any place I can get that outside of usual operating hours is gratefully received.
Grillstock allows you to do just that.
Walking through the door of the small, intimate restaurant you are transported from West-county Bristol to an American mid-west bar where rock music and grilling reign supreme.
When we arrived a table of 26 had been seated just before us – which for a 24 seater restaurant was proving challenging. Yes you heard that right, there are just two dozen seats, on one long table. Intimate is the name of the game with this dining style.
But the ever-chirpy staff members took it all in their stride, chatting happily with waiting customers and attending to our every need.
When our turn finally came to be seated we were directed to the till, where we dutifully ordered, took our little number and sat down.
This is where you start to realise how close you actually are. If this is a place you want to go on an intimate date then I wouldn’t recommend it, you’ve got to be willing to cosy up next to perfect strangers.
But if you just want a good hearty meal with an atmosphere to boot this is definitely your place.
The burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs are among the most popular options, but in my opinion it’s the plates that offer the best value – and for an indecisive person like me – variety.
I ordered the Smokehouse Special, featuring pulled pork, BBQ chicken and beef brisket, while my friend chose to take on the Lockjaw burger. We also ordered the Mac and Cheese.
Each came served on a metal tray with an ample helping of chips and slaw, while mine had the addition of a bread roll.
From the outset the plates looked appetising and inviting, but I have to say, the first bite was slightly disappointing.
The chips were overly salty and the meat tender, but lacking enough flavour for a place that prides itself on its BBQ and grill.
My friend also hit a snag early on when she asked for ketchuponly to be told it wasn’t stocked and she’d have to take the speciality BBQ sauce instead.
The Mac and Cheese was gritty and something struck a chord with me which screamed ‘authentic’ but not quite right. I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t go back for it.
The meats were tender and the brisket fell apart on eating, while the chicken came off the bone with ease. The pulled pork was my most anticipated entrée and didn’t disappoint. It was salty, but manageable and had a subtle flavour.
The burger featured two 5oz burgers, pulled pork, beef brisket, burnt ends, melted cheese, house pickles and fry sauce.
The many components ensured it had a range of textures, with both crunchy and chewy bits, as well as great combination of flavours. Once again though, the only issue we had was the saltiness. If I could ask one thing of the restaurant, it’s hold back on the salt. It’s a slight overkill.
Located on Triangle West, on the busy hub of studentville in Clifton, Grillstock has always been on my radar as one of those places to try, but I’ve never found time to make it.
It is clearly aimed at those in need of a quick food fix rather than a long, relaxed dining experience.
Be prepared to wait, as it is popular with students and the general public alike, but if you can handle the salty flavours, the somewhat unusual dining arrangements and a bucket load of food then this is your place.