You are going to get SICK of hearing about MeatLiquor. This post will be a drop in the ocean on Food Blog World™ , where a tidal wave of hype is brewing. It’s going to hang around the top 10 on UrbanSpoon for months. I mean, it’s not even supposed to be open yet (official date is 11.11.11 - ‘course it is) and there’s already like a million blog posts about it or something. But open, it is. As soon as I found out I got down there as quickly I could, as is my duty to YOU, dear reader.
For those who don’t exclusively follow food-related accounts on Twitter, MeatLiquor is the spawn of the Meatwagon, a converted U.S ambulance which has been supplying the finest burgers in London to hungry pub-goers over the last few years. At the start of the year they opened up Meateasy, a pop-up burger bar temporarily located above a pub in New Cross. The hype grew. Now they’ve opened up a proper, 90 cover restaurant in the West End. It’s a very good business model for these austere times - build up your customer base and develop your products with the relatively low-risk burger van venture, court the bloggers, engage the customer base on Twitter, open a pop-up to iron out the creases, disappear for a bit, take up a residency in a pub in Peckham for dress rehearsal then BANG - out of nowhere open a fully functioning rock n’ roll burger bar behind Debenhams in the West End.
Anyway, on to the restaurant. It’s dark. It’s in a galleried space which used to be an Italian restaurant. The walls and ceilings are covered in scratchy, splattered graffiti and paste-ups of animal heads (in my other guise I’m motion designer and animator and one of the studios whose work I particularly admire are ilovedust, for it was they who did all the illustration). Loud rock n’ roll blares out through the darkness. On my visit they played Brakes, The Stooges and Black Sabbath amongst other things. I can safely say I’ve never been to a restaurant where they’ve played War Pigs at full volume. It reminds me a little of White Trash Fast Food in Berlin (home of Fuck You fries).
All this darkness, loud metal and graffiti-covered walls means MeatLiquor ain’t for everyone. Some people will hate it. Some people will think it’s trying too hard to be cool. Fair enough. They’re not trying to please everyone. For me though, there’s nothing else like this place in London. It’s a proper rock and roll burger bar. Personally I love burgers and if I can listen to Black Sabbath whilst eating one - bonus.
Now, the food - they have 6 burgers and a variety of other dishes (Philly cheesesteak, hot dogs, chicken and even *gasp* some salads). We got a little overexcited and ordered LOADS, and as it’s simple food I won’t over-analyse the dishes. Plus, it’s so dark in there I can barely read the menu, let alone take decent pictures so here’s a breakdown:
- Buffalo Wings: Really good. 5 quid. You get LOADS. Maybe they should also do a starter-size portion too for 3 quid though, as you really do get a lot. Fantastic blue cheese dressing. Basically pure blue cheese.
- Deep Fried Pickles: Deep fried pickles! Genius.
- Slaw: Great slaw. Better than Leon.
- Dead Hippie burger: HELL YEAH. This is basically a Big Mac made with really high-quality ingredients. 2 thick, rare burger patties, Big Mac sauce, lettuce, cheese and a brioche bun. Perfect. And another thing - the burgers aren’t stupidly massive. They’re just right. Whoever decreed that modern burgers must be at least 12” tall and piled with crap wants shooting.
- Fries: These were OK, not bad, not amazing. My advice: steal the Draft House’s recipe. Their fries are amazing.
- Dessert: we had a lovely pecan pie with EXCELLENT pastry.
- Drinks: I had a Meantime pale ale in a frozen glass (it made the foam on the beer freeze), we had a top notch bottle of Malbec for 15 quid and they have a MASSIVE cocktail list of inventive booze. I had a Full English martini (garnished with a scotched quail’s egg). It was potent.
So there you have it. It’s loud, dark, brash and the burgers are epic. They put kitchen rolls on the table to mop up the mess from your filthy hands and face. They’ve kept it simple. A perfect antidote to the too-tall, over-thought poncey burgers that permeate pubs and restaurants these days. Those wonderful burgers are backed up by a delicious array of interesting diner-style treats, and the price is right too. Plus, at 90 covers it’s big enough for the no-booking policy not to be a massive pain in the arse. If you walk up, you’ll probably be OK.
You wouldn’t take your mother-in-law there and some of your friends will definitely hate it. However if you want a stupidly good burger made with top-notch ingredients with a cocktail served in a jam jar, and you want to consume these goodies in a fun environment whilst rocking the fuck out to Sabbath then get yourself down to MeatLiquor, stat.
74 Wellbeck St