'A decent, relatively affordable place to grab a surprisingly good meal'


Open Mon–Wed 7am–1am, Thu–Fri 7am–3am, Sat 8am–3am, Sun 8am–midnight

You can’t fault a place for having plug sockets. At least, that was the first thing that sprang to mind when I spotted those inconspicuous little outlets built in beside every table at VQ Notting Hill. In a way, the novelty of having somewhere to charge your phone during drinks or lunch encapsulates VQ’s character pretty nicely: it’s a place that ostensibly exists to serve the undiscerning 2016 socialite, a pit stop during a typical west London night out or the easy choice if you’re avoiding anywhere too strenuous or ‘dinner-y’.

VQ is free wi-fi. It’s Radio One on the speakers. It’s mood lighting and leather seats in the booths. So what a pleasant surprise it was, then, to find that VQ surprised me at all.

Notting Hill’s VQ, like the others (Chelsea and Bloomsbury are home to sister branches) is pretty unassuming when it comes to looks. Frankly, I’d struggle to pick it out from any other bar or fancy gastropub in Notting Hill.

The atmosphere was hard to pin down considering the place was nigh-on empty at half seven on a Tuesday night, but I expect during busier hours it likely becomes the sort of bustling, not-entirely-unfriendly and mostly unpretentious nightlife spot that tends to prove particularly popular on a Saturday night at around nine or ten o’clock. As a place to be, it’s serviceable, not special. As a place to eat, however, it’s got a hell of a lot over on its competition.


I was honestly ready for an entirely unremarkable, albeit decent, meal. The menu did nothing to dissuade those expectations—we’re talking burgers, hot dogs, steak, fish and chips, salads, a bit of pasta, all that sort of thing. The first word that springs to mind is ‘unadventurous’.

Frankly, however, VQ are well within their rights to be unadventurous when the execution is as satisfying as it was. My breaded chicken burger (£6.95) was heftier than I expected, perfectly tender and came served with a truly excellent burger sauce, even if the sweet chilli mayonnaise was light to the point of being unnoticeable. The sweet potato fries (£4.95), while slightly pricey, proved a workable accompaniment. Value-wise, that was a weird one, but shelling out a fiver on fries becomes far easier when you realise you’ve only spent £7 on a great burger.

My guest’s steak and chips (£21.95) included a decent cut of steak cooked just on the rare side—never a bad thing—some pretty standard-fare chips and a tremendous green peppercorn sauce. I’ve had worse steaks in places in London that place more of an emphasis on their red meat, so it was nice to find that VQ pulled it off rather well—although I’d be very hard-pressed to call it a steak worth more than twenty quid.

Both meals were well-portioned and the desserts—apple crumble and custard (£6.50) and lemon drizzle cake (£6.50)—were fulfilling and beautifully presented.

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That menu, and the food that came with it, pretty much sums up VQ. As a place to go for a drink, it’s no better or worse than half the other bars in Notting Hill. As a place to push the gastronomic boat out, it falls by the wayside to some of west London’s more exciting restaurants.

As a decent, relatively affordable place to grab a surprisingly good meal with a load of friends before a night out, however, it might well be your best bet.

VQ, 24 Pembridge Road, Notting Hill, London W11; 020 3745 7224; www.vqrestaurants.com

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