SquareMeal Review of
The brainchild of The Only Way Is Essex star Megan McKenna, the jury was out on whether McK Grill could be taken seriously. On our visit, however, we were pleasantly surprised by its best-of-British, high-end offering. Turn a blind eye to the location next to a newsagents because, once inside, the interiors are just as glitzy as you’d expect, with light-grey walls, sparkling chandeliers and plenty of mirrors to practise your pout in. From the British-leaning, mostly gluten-free menu (McKenna is coeliac), we started with a creamy pea and mint soup, the sweetness of the peas complemented by a smoky ham hock fritter on the side. We skipped the steak and lobster grills in favour of confit pork belly – melt-in-the-mouth meat contrasting with a topping of crisp crackling, while domes of tangy burnt-apple mayo added another layer of texture. Our steaming-hot side of thick mac’n’cheese stuffed with pulled-apart short-rib was the ultimate comfort food dish, while desserts followed suit with stomach-warming British classics, including a sticky-toffee pudding with a scoop of milk ice cream which melted its way into the gooey centre. An extensive drinks list includes cocktails, wines-by-the-glass and Champagne for Essex boys and girls looking to flash the cash. Not everything felt so on-brand – the restaurant’s 1940s-style soundtrack jars with its glammed-up look and the dining room was only half-full on our mid-week visit. Nevertheless, McK Grill is a welcome addition to Woodford and likely to become an Essex hotspot thanks to its famous owner. And if the only way is Essex for you at the weekend, there’s also Saturday brunch and Sunday roasts.