By Charlotte Hope, Lifestyle Editor
There’s something so appealing about Bloomsbury’s latest take on the American diner; the American Graffiti and Grease – soundtracks and mood-boards for my childhood – immediately set the mood.
When I heard that VQ, which holds the honour of being high in Gordon Ramsay’s esteem when it comes to the fry-up, had opened a new 24 hour diner near Tottenham Court Road, I knew the 50s sock hopper in me had to go and try it out. Tucked away on Great Russell Street, a hop, skip and a jump behind theatreland, is this new branch of VQ. Named VQ for vingt-quatre, the diner is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We ventured down on a Tuesday, unsure of how much business there’d be. Happily, almost all of the booths were occupied and the food coming out of the kitchen looked delicious. The setting itself was an updated version of the diner format: PVC booths and fomica tables were brought into the 21st century with longer wooden tables and attractive leather seat backs.
We were seated and shown the drinks menu. The attentive young man serving us gave us the recommendation of a Chilean red which we went for; it was served at the perfect temperature. We then perused the menu. It’s very extensive and offers classic diner fare – burgers, hot dogs, fries etc – as well as a set menu with pasta, fish goujons and other less likely items. Given the setting we opted for more traditional diner style food – to start we shared truffled crisps with blue cheese dip and breaded jalapeños. Both were well executed but the truffled crisps were definitely more note worthy; the truffle flavour was subtle and didn’t overpower the blue cheese. I then went for a chilli dog and my partner had a club sandwich, with sweet potato fries to share. The chilli dog was lovely – instead of using a pretty basic hot dog, which they could have got away with, the flavoursome chilli was layered over an incredible beef hot dog. The club sandwich was well done but fairly basic and the sweet potato fries were perfect.
Although we were verging on too full we were tempted by the dessert options. Banoffee pie is a personal weakness, so I immediately knew what I was going to order. My partner went for a knickerbocker glory, again influenced by the atmosphere of the place. My choice was affirmed by our waiter who said he would have recommended it, but when it came I’m sad to say it was the weakest link. The base was a little damp and there wasn’t enough toffee for my sweet tooth – this was less fault of the kitchen and more my own need for sugar. The knickerbocker glory was, on the other hand, excellent – sprinkled with Smarties and laced with generous helpings of chocolate sauce.
We left knowing we’d go back – it may not be the Beauty School Dropout setting I feel familiar with but it is a comfortable diner serving good food round the clock. Perfect for pre- or post- theatre hunger pangs and ideal sneaking off to late night.