The East Rand is fast becoming home to a number of excellent restaurants. And best of all, it is more affordable as there is no surcharge for an establishment’s address.
BarQGrill is one of those special finds, having been open for months, and while you spot it frequently, and make a mental note to pop in, you somehow forget about it as soon as you drive past.
Mother’s Day was probably the worst time to check out a new eatery. It would be busy; service may be a bit compromised and cooking time would be slow. But we did it. And I am so glad that the adventure paid off.
BarQGrill is a great experience. From the manager that opens the door for customers, the staff that seat you through to waiter service levels. It was solid, and considering that the handful of service staff were run off their feet by families taking mom for a bite, exceptional. It certainly passed my mum’s somewhat demanding litmus test, and she is a tough one to please.
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The menu is a combination of steakhouse, sushi bar and signature dishes. For starters you absolutely must try the Blossom Onion for R60. It is a giant, flowered-out onion with a crispy outside and served with a cheese sauce. What a delicious idea this is.
The Jalapeno Puffers for R75 are another standout. It is a phyllo pastry wrapped interpretation of jalapeno poppers without the tough, deep fried skin and stalk. It is filled to the brim with feta and jalapeno bits, served in a sticky-delicious, sweet chili sauce. It almost makes you want to swap ordering mains for another two or more portions of these yummy puffers.
Plating is impressive at BarQGrill. It is not slap-up steakhouse vibes at all. Instead, beautiful pinch-pot like earthenware presents diners with eye-candy. This restaurant takes care of attention to detail.
And then there are the mains. I had a giant 350g fillet steak with cheese sauce. It was perfectly grilled and did not drown in a barbeque basting. Instead, it was prepared not to compromise taste. For sides, there was really good garlic-buttery baby potatoes. You can order your meat on or off the bone.
The cheese sauce was really impressive. It tasted like real cheese. Variants of this side at other eateries arrive at the table either as a floury white sauce, scattered with a bit of cheese shrapnel, or a dose of processed-cheese tasting, mass produced yuck.
The beef pita is reasonably priced at R125 and inside, super tender beef and a wrap so big it contradicts its light meal status. At R95 the chicken breast is equally as generous and tasty.
The Wagyu beef burgers are large, and an indulgence. For vegetarians, there’s a beyond beef burger on the menu.
The chicken sword, at R195, is a 300g skewered, grilled honey and mustard drenched specialty served with any side on the menu. It’s as delicious as it sounds.
There’s no kiddie’s menu. But it is not a problem. There is enough on the varied menu to fill any youngster’s tummy. Portions are also big enough to share.
There’s also a good selection of seafood dishes and sushi to explore.
Desserts are also not mass produced, pre-frozen and microwaved to serve stuff. The Baklava ice cream cigars are legend, the crème brulé satisfying my fussy mum, noting that it is the best she has ever had.
The restrooms at BarQGrill are spotless, comfortable and cleaned constantly. To me this reflects what the kitchen might look like, and how much the restaurateur takes an interest in the wellness of their staff and customers.
The restaurant comprises two levels, but it does not feel like a canteen. The décor and fittings minimal, the layout conducive to distancing for wellness reasons and, because you really do not want to share in the gossip from the next table. Managers roam the place to check on everything while the owner sweats it in the kitchen. And that is great. So many potentially great restaurants are dismissed because the owner does not run his shop. And that personal effort will pay off because I will be back and likely every other family that enjoyed BarQGrill on Mother’s Day, and any other day for that matter.
Even better is the price. We were five adults, two under five kids and did not hesitate to enjoy a Mother’s Day meal. Yet, when the bill came, it was several hundred rand below my expectation. BarQGrill is not only affordable but flipping awesome.