Thursday 24 November 2011

Meat Liquor

One of the newest (and most rudely named) additions to London’s constantly growing collection of hip and trendy burger joints is Meat Liquor, tucked away behind Debenhams just north of Oxford Street.
 The reason I know it is hip and trendy (not being those things myself) is that I had to queue for just over an hour to get a seat, which is not at all unusual for the people who own this place. The previous outlet was MeatEasy in South London, and still in action is the revered MeatWagon, both of which have attracted praise and adulation for their meaty creations.
       The likes of Byron, GBK and other such chains, along with higher end places like Maze and Hawksmoor, have been at the forefront of an attitude shift which places the humble burger on a pedestal, something to be celebrated and respected, talked about, much as they are in places like New York. This seemed to occur in London pretty organically, a gradual rise in popularity and a trend towards pared back, casual eateries, with places like Byron becoming barometers for cool. Nothing here at Meat Liquor feels organic or natural; every ‘cool burger place’ g-spot is hit with purpose and planning. No bookings, so the line winds around the corner. Loud but considered rock music, and good looking, shouty, aloof waiters. No napkins, no cutlery, food on metal trays, cocktails in jam jars, dark lighting, craft beers, short menu. None of this is new, but it is all put together to create a little piece of New York – you could be in Brooklyn or the Lower East Side. Yet a few hundred yards from Selfridges and the Bond Street boutiques, it doesn’t quite ring true – a point made by the 20-35 year old, fashionable, affluent, tweet-while-they-eat crowd that are queuing at the door. A hidden gem this is not – but it does have kick-ass food.

Get in my way and I will do this to you.
           A properly sexy menu delivers very decent sticky Buffalo wings, with a life threateningly good blue cheese sauce, and a pork slider was big and tasty. The fries and onion rings were faultless, but the burgers are the real home run. Great burgers should make you feel dirty, sticky, slightly ashamed, like you got laid 12 hours ago and haven’t showered yet. The ‘Dead Hippie’ at Meat Liquor makes you feel like you just had sex with the entire staff of the Camden branch of McDonalds and then bathed in hog fat. Juicy, salty, yielding meat inside a sweet, soft, pillowy bun, with various bits and pieces to lift the flavour to more than itself. Satisfying on a primitive level, but also exquisitely judged textures and seasoning.
             40 quid for 2 people to reach a level of extreme, not even another waffer-thin-mint level of fullness, and have plenty of fun doing it, is a bargain in this town. The food makes up for any affectations, any my only real complaint is the drinks menu. For somewhere with an actual bar, serving American classics, only 2 bottled craft beers, and no draught beer or bourbons of any kind is criminal. I won’t be dragged into the ‘best burger in London’ debate, as it is too subjective for me to offer anything valid, and I simply haven’t tried them all. I will say that this is the most I have enjoyed a burger this side of the Atlantic, and even the thought of queuing in the blistering cold probably won’t stop me going back for more after some Christmas shopping in John Lewis next month.


  1. Pure filth. I need to go. But quick question, what's better: fucking the entire Camden McDonalds staff and bathing in hog fat or the burger at Meat Liquor?

  2. Yeah, got to agree, it does feel a little contrived and try-too-hard inside. The raw authenticity that surrounded what they were doing in Peckham Rye (never made it to the New Cross restaurant) has kinda been lost. That being said, the burgers ar so good it makes no difference. I'd happily sit on a spike and eat off the floor if my plate had a Dead Hippy on it.

  3. Mark 1 - I'm not sure about that, but why does it have to be one or the other? Both at the same time would be a decent night out.

    Mark 2 - I agree, the food is worth ignoring any annoyances, and perhaps even some light S&M as you mention. I just worry the less greedy will be put off by it all and miss out.