Boxcar Bar and Grill


In the small hinterland between Oxford Street, Marylebone High Street and the Edgware Road lies an area on New Quebec Street that hasn’t ever been given a suitable name. It’s not quite Marylebone Village, but it has a similar air of seclusion and quietly moneyed civility to it, reflected in the kinds of restaurants and bars that throng around here.

Even their names sum up a certain class and refinement: The Grazing Goat; Philglass and Swiggott; and, to quite delectable effect, the Boxcar Bar and Grill, which arrived on the street recently and, after a substantial refurbishment, has established itself as not just a neighbourhood restaurant par excellence, but somewhere that deserves a discerning clientele to come from all over London to visit, and beyond.

If you can find a suitably quiet and cosy corner in the rear dining room, you will be struck by several salient features before the food begins to arrive. How the atmosphere is a perfect blend of Manhattan speakeasy and something looser and wilder (check out all the foliage in the back), where you can imagine staying up until some unearthly hour and drinking some of the (sensational) cocktails and sampling the bar snacks.

How the service is the perfect blend of friendly and informal with slick and informed; when you ask for a wine recommendation, it comes freighted with authority. And most of all how you’re guaranteed a very good time here for a price that’s thoroughly reasonable for central London, in a setting that’s convivial and fun.

We’d been advised to order bar snacks to kick off with, and we’re glad we did; the haggis sausage roll, pig’s head croquette and mini-Welsh rarebit are all sensational, a riot of big flavours, and a comparative steal at a mere £3 each. (Given the Grazing Goat opposite was selling a Scotch egg for £8.50, it’s a true bargain for this part of town.) Then it’s a delicate balance between getting the carnivorous and the pescetarian/vegetarian in sympathy with one another.

To ensure the balance of the latter, we take a pair of excellent starters of scallops with pancetta (oops) and Jerusalem artichoke, and charred cauliflower with cashew nuts; for the former, there is no other option, having glimpsed the charcoal-fired oven on the way in, than to opt for the chateaubriand to share, allied to sides that include perfect truffle and parmesan fries, fine charred broccoli that still tastes of the coal it was cooked on, and super peppercorn sauce. We ask for a wine pairing, and a suitably meaty Malbec arrives. It’s all perfect.

There is some debate about dessert, but we are, by now, fairly stuffed. But there’s still room for one final treat, and that’s a perfectly prepared cocktail, the ‘Twice Smoked’ a giddy riot of Calvados, Laphroaig 10, apple and maple; it’s the kind of thing given to soldiers to send them into battle, albeit infinitely nicer, and it sends my guest and I out into the cool London night with a spring in our steps and joy in our hearts. Boxcar Bar and Grill is a truly special place, full of wonders and delight. And, best of all, a trip here won’t even begin to break the bank, either.

Boxcar Bar & Grill, 23 New Quebec St, London W1H 7SD. For more information, including details of their £19 ‘Quick Lunch’, and for bookings, please visit