When someone opens a restaurant over a bar that you have mainly frequented for drunken nights and live music, you’re bound to be sceptical. But On The Rocks at Quigley’s in Rugby proved that all it takes is a great idea, well-executed, and doing something simple really well, to succeed.
Being meat lovers, obviously a “steak on the stone” restaurant was going to appeal to me and Mr Manning. But I have to say, it takes more than just a bit of cow to make a restaurant a firm favourite for us, and it’s a hell of a lot of that “more” that Quigley’s offers.
The setting is quirky, relaxing and perfect for a sociable meal out. Wooden tables and chairs occupy the floor above the bar, with surprisingly little interruption from the shenanigans below. Maybe that’s because of the sizzling of steaks and hubbub of conversation that a decent eaterie encourages.
Simplicity rules here – menus are a blackboard on the wall offering the short (though recently slightly expanded) list of selections. Starters are sharing mezze plates with olives and cold meats; baskets of freshly made different flavoured breads; or gooey breaded mozzarella sticks.
But this is just the support act for a main event that is earning Quigley’s rave reviews and regular top rankings on Trip Advisor. You choose from rib-eye, sirloin and fillet steak (all priced under £20), and now with additions to the menu like chicken or duck breast, and a vegetarian choice of halloumi and mushroom stack, then it’s all down to you.
Your board arrives, complete with hot stone at about a gazillion degrees, salad, a side of chips and three sauces, including a piquant chimichurri that perfectly complements the steak.
For this kind of restaurant, it’s quality ingredients that are the key, and they’ve got it just right. Decent meat (from localbutcher Joseph Morris), good breads and meats with the starter, chips cooked in fresh oil, and fresh, light salad. Cook your steak in one lump if you like, or cut into little pieces. Either way, the freedom to cook it yourself in just the way you want it, the smells of freshly seared meat permeating the whole restaurant, and the sheer fun of the whole experience, makes for a brilliant, sociable evening out.
Add to this a decent wine list; a cracking selection of homemade desserts – have had a few to-die-for cheesecakes here; fun, knowledgeable service; and you’ve got a great dining experience. Long may it last!