MT Reviews: MEATliquor

It's the hottest burger sensation in town but does MEATliquor really live up to its rep? Roving MT reporter Neon Kelly gives the place a gastronomic going over.

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Last Updated: 21 Apr 2015

The beef-in-a-bun trade has enjoyed a spectacular renaissance in recent years, a phenomenon due in no small part to the efforts of Yianni Papoutsis and Scott Collins. Some 18 months on from MEATLiquor's arrival on Welbeck Street, the pair are still the undisputed kings of Hamburger Hill. Their brand is surrounded by a rich mythology of its own making - by tales of a magical burger wagon that roamed across London, and of a pop-up eaterie hidden above the ruins of a New Cross pub.

Even now, with the restaurant housed in a permanent home, the queues to get in have become the stuff of legend: a visit during peak hours can result in a wait of up to 90 minutes, a delay that brings fresh irony to the term 'fast food'.

And yet for all this hooplah, the actual cuisine is endearingly simple. Papoutsis and Collins have taken inspiration from iconic Los Angeles haunts like Pinks and In-N-Out Burger, and their offerings are as straightforward as they are perfectly executed.

A typical meal might kick off with deep fried pickles and a serving of onion rings - the former come with a killer blue cheese dip, while the latter win points for nailing the precarious crispy-squidgy balance. The rings are also gratifyingly enormous - you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd ordered a pile of donuts. However, steer clear of the appetizers if you're planning to work through lunch. Your paperwork or iPad will not survive this saucy tsunami.

From there it's onto your choice of sandwich. Phili cheese steaks and 'dirty' chicken burgers are available with slight variations, but for your first visit some kind of beef patty is pretty much mandatory. The clear star of the menu is the Dead Hippie burger, comprising of cheese, pickles, onions, and two enormous hunks of minced beef.

The recipe for MEATLiquor's mysterious Dead Hippie sauce is a closely-guarded secret, but it seems safe to assume that deceased peaceniks aren't actually on the list. Whatever the formula, the overall combination delivers a knock-out tang, and the burgers themselves are gloriously juicy, crumbling apart in your mouth.

As for a MEATliquor's credentials as a business lunch venue, it's safe to say that it depends wildly on your date. Grinning at each other as beef juice drips down your chin could be a bonding experience, but for those who like to keep their shirt sleeves stain-free, it might all be a little overwhelming. There are no plates here; everything is delivered on oversized trays and devoured off paper napkins.

And, as amazing as the food is, there are a few other caveats to bear in mind. As the restaurant's name suggests, vegetarians don't have a lot of options. There's a mushroom burger and a salad, but the fact that both these items are listed on the menu under 'Rabbit Food' tells you all you need to know.

It's also surprisingly dark in the restaurant, with the décor owing more to the hipster grime of Shoreditch than to the shine of nearby Oxford Street. This could be an asset should you require anonymity: you can barely see your hand in front of your face, let alone spot two tycoons doings deals in the corner.

In truth, the only real problem with Meat Liquor as a business meeting venue is the aforementioned queues, a product of the fact that you can't book a table in advance. The place gets insanely busy in the evenings, but then what can we expect from one of the most popular joints in town? You can turn up for a late lunch midweek without too much bother, however, and the food is certainly worth the effort - especially as it's roughly the same price as a visit to Byron.

When one of the best burgers in London can be had for a mere £7.50, it's no surprise that the masses are waiting in line.

Find out more about MEATliquor

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