Thursday, 10 November 2011

Meat Liquor

A little tweety bird tipped me off that Meat Liquor (or is it #MeatLiquor?) was doing a soft-opening in advance of the big launch this weekend. Having missed out on the cultish fad of the van and Southeast London pub incarnations of Yianni Papoutsis’s irreverent burgers, I had to see what the fuss was about.

Now I’m an intrepid bloke at times, but just as Frank’s Campari car park was a Southern train too far, equally Meat Wagon/MeatEasy’s pop-up locations in Victorian sewers in Dagenham, or abandoned mental hospitals in Lewisham, or wherever, seemed too much for a just a burger. So thank God he’s now in the West End.

The space includes an indoor pavilion structure, which you could easily envisage as a mosh pit with the music they have on. It’s a big, dark, angry space with some incredible designs and graphics, largely in red, black and white. You seat yourself, but then it’s table service. You could easily be in Brooklyn or the Lower East Side, but it feels like London too.

Some New Cross Negronis started proceedings (£7) in jam jars, fairly punchy but could have been a little stronger, given the small amount of liquid.

Deep fried pickles (£3) are genius. Hot, crunchy batter surrounding proper American-style thick pickle slices – brilliant idea and so addictive. Possibly the perfect beer snack?

rubbish pic of a pickle

Buffalo wings (£5) are off the Richter, as my girl Fergie would say. I adore wings and these are very faithful renditions. Juicy, meaty wings, well coated with some zing, and an absolutely perfect blue cheese dip. Massive portion too for a fiver.

The burgers themselves (£7-8) are obviously also superb. Mine isn’t as pink in the middle as I’d like it, but the meat is so tender, moist and soft, that it doesn’t matter. It just melts into the mouth. It comes with salad, tomato and pickle, and then a spot of mustard, ketchup and possibly burger relish. I can’t quite tell, it’s dark in here. But no sauce is too dominant.

One slight let down is the fries. They’re fine but given the excitement around all the other dishes, they fade into the background. I suppose not everyone can be the star of the show, but perhaps they could look at some premium fries, such as the garlic fries one encounters in hipster-diner type places in NYC.

fries and a better idea of the pickles

I absolutely love this place. It’s like Byron for Satanists. It’s dark, clandestine and rebellious, and makes you feel like you’re in on the secret. But it doesn't ape the Prohibition thing one jot.

I love the anarchic feel, yet you could easily wander round, beer in hand, taking in the designs. Staff are passionate, Yianni himself was walking around making sure things were going well and the whole thing is going to be a massive hit.

If your idea of foodie heaven is in fact Hell, with the highest quality grease-feast, 80s rock blaring out and plenty of booze, then come join me.

Food – 9/10
Drink – 9/10
Service - 7/10 (some long waits for drinks, but early days...)
Value – 9/10
Tap water tales – 0/10 (none offered or seen, cheating!)
Staff Hotness – 8/10 (cute, inked up girls and guys abound if that's your bag)
Meat Liquor on Urbanspoon

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