Wednesday, 7 March 2012

MeatLIQUOR: bap to basics

Stupid place, incredible burgers. I think.

The reputation that precedes Meat Liquor strongest is its queues. Miles in length the critics howled, longer than Disneyland they decreed, not worth the wait they posited.

Well we arrived on a windy, hailing, shitty excuse for an evening to find the evidence of queuing (a put-out bouncer, the obligatory concrete corner, Chinese whispers about waiting time and a pointless rope) but not much of a queue. And if I hadn't arrived 10 minutes late after approaching the restaurant from Old Street but via Notting Hill Gate (don't ask), I was assured by my companion that I would not have waited at all.

The reason behind this potentially flawed reputation is that MeatLIQUOR is trendy. It has managed the enviable trick of having the respect of East London, without actually having to be there. Decor-wise it is sat beneath a concrete block and things get even dingier inside, landing somewhere between an abbatoir and a pub toilet.

Closer inspection leads us to assume it is an attempt at a macabre US diner, arguably something we should have seen coming. After a short wait we were led through some plastic, red-paint stained curtains to a seat where the waiters would never, ever find us. So we immediately ordered their "house grog" (which they claim is so strong they only let you have two) and settled in for the long haul.

Just 10 minutes in we were both drunk and tucking into our "Dead Hippie Burgers", which essentially had all the ingredients of a Big Mac, but none of it was so limp you could eat it with a straw. However, it was so hard to eat a straw may have helped. The sauce fell out the sides, the meat fell apart and the gherkins clung to the side of your mouth like they were afraid of the dark. This is not date food. It's a dirty, dirty dinner. Hence the healthy supply of Plenty on each table. The burger was good, damned good. A little under seasoned, but also a little under-priced, which was refreshing for somewhere trendy.

Feeling cocky we also ordered a side of onion rings, which were the size of slinkies and delicious. Sadly however, half the chips were limp and went cold too quickly. I was also slightly disappointed by the presence of Mr Heinz and Mr Hellman on the table. Surely somewhere as focused on flavour and simplicity would choose to make their own sauces, or find a small artisan supplier.

The burgers don't match up to those of Hache, and only marginally beat the Diner chain. But they are cheaper and are more decadent. The cocktails were also good and the atmosphere of the place just the right side of trendy. I don't know why booking has gone out of fashion, but the only way to review a place like a this is to say how long you'd queue. We waited 10 minutes and, on a less miserable evening, I'd have probably queued for around 20.

But then, I'm still drunk from the grog.

@MEATliquor | | 020 7224 423

MEATliquor on Urbanspoon   Square Meal

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