Steve McQueen, the man, the legend, ‘the king of cool’, there’s a lot to be said for him. Trained in Korean martial art Tang Soo Do, a race car enthusiast and known for completing his own stunts, McQueen’s legacy continues today, with everything from jeggings through to dolls commemorating him. While I’m sure he would have been proud to don a pair of leggings with his face printed on them, I’m forgoing that trend for a more edible way to pay my respects to McQueen, at the eponymous restaurant over in Shoreditch.
Venue & Atmosphere
Say McQueen in Shoreditch and DJs, late nights and bumping on the dancefloor is what springs to mind. While the venue may be a notorious clubbing spot, it’s not all partying on payday Fridays, and seen in the light of day is actually a swish restaurant and bar. A bouncer still ushers you in (old habits die hard) however the atmosphere is far more relaxed in the early evening with City boys and girls sipping on cocktails in the front bar.
The grill restaurant is hidden behind two towering doors that only open for a few hours each day at the back of the bar. Step through them and into a room that could very well be McQueen’s long lost shag pad with black leather sofas, fur covers and pictures of the icon on pretty much every centimetre of wall; it's intimate, glitzy and fun. There are other swish touches; aeroplane propellers dangle from the ceiling in homage to the actor’s love of flying, and polished dark wood and padded leather walls giving the feeling that I've stumbled into a top secret alpine lodge.
Food & Drink
McQueen keeps their food menu short and sweet, with the sort of caveman teeth sinking steaks and half chickens Steve McQueen most probably ate before chopping wood, or something equally as alpha. For starters, we divided The BBQ braised belly pork (£9.50) which was a hunk of meat covered in slaw and made richer with big chunks of creamy stilton. In contrast to the punchy meat dish, the gravadlax (£11.50) was a light dish of raw salmon accompanied by rye bread and pickles.
Mains were split between a variety of steaks, from rib-eyes through to rumps, and other meat dishes, that you then paired with sides. The sirloin (£28.50) had been aged for 35-days before being cut into 400g chunks and served to us with a thick bearnaise sauce (£2.50). I went for the lamb chop (£26.50) which had been grilled and came with a pot of sharp salsa verde and sweetbread - nugget shapes of fried offal which I don't think was the best accompaniment for the lamb, but tasted good alone. Neither dish came with accompaniments so we ordered a plate-licking-ly good smoked cheddar mac n cheese (£5), and moreish triple fried chips (£3.50).
As well as a hunky meat menu, the venue also serves cocktails as smooth as the man himself, all with quirky names and original mixes. The Hunteress (£9.80) was a mix of sweet and bitter as tequila, grapefruit, egg white, honey and fresh lime were muddled together. The wine list was similar to the food menu, with a few options chosen on their quality and ranging from £25 house bottles through to a £140 French white.
While I’ve stumbled out of McQueen early morning, it’s worth swapping it for an early evening session as the venue cooks up fail-safe dishes of big meat cuts and moreish cocktails, all with the trademark smoothness of the King of Cool. Looks like I won't have to buy those McQueen face jeggings just yet.