At MEATliquor, Burger Love is Blind

MEATliquor occupies a hidden site back side of Debenhams’ Oxford Street flagship, its only tag a red neon sign that spells MEAT as if viewed through shutter shades. No matter. The bar-and-griddle is the first taxable address registered to the Meatwagon‘s Yianni Papoutsis and  Scott Collins, his partner at Meateasy, the back-pub pop-up his burger truck inspired. The mere presence of their burgers and cocktails is enough to shift London’s collective eatinerary to the grey corner of Henrietta and Welbeck Streets. Even the 73 bus is on MEATliquor deviation.

The Phil Spector of burger producers, Yianni spins Wall of Sound compositions of spine-tingling, yellow-cheese-dripping Americana under the neon glow of twtter. The bacon cheeseburger I tried yesterday at MEATliquor – £7 without fries (no great loss) –  leaked fatty juices from every crevice of its patty’s desirably crumbly periphery, lubricating the liberally seasoned surface for its bacon patty piggyback. With black highlights on the crusty shell and pink ones through the medium-rare interior this middleweight burger was transformed from pop-up to pinup.

MEATliquor

Problem was I didn’t see all this burger rauchiness, misshapen bun and all, until I returned home and looked at the flash photographs you see above. MEATliquor is bar/restaurant as fairground dark ride, a carnivorous funhouse of gothic surrealism in red and black. Upon entering it’s as if you’ve traded your shutter shades for super dark sunglasses when what you really need is night vision goggles.

When I think food truck-turned-restaurant I imagine an open fluorescent kitchen, as there was at Meateasy. You want to see the burgers sizzle. Here the griddle is out of view, either by design or necessity. The greater crime is not being to ogle the burger you’re eating. Darkroom lighting, however cool or moody, does it no justice. If only Papoutsis or Collins would hop over to Debenhams and pick up some high wattage bulbs.

MEATliquor is open Tues-Thurs, noon to midnight; Fri-Sat, noon to 2am

About Daniel

Food critic and events leader Daniel Young is the "Young" behind young&foodish

Comments

  1. Kavey says:

    Is one allowed to wear a head torch in meatliquor. I hate not being able to see what I’m eating and I have a head torch somewhere in my holiday stuff drawer…

  2. mehrunnisa says:

    Daniel, those burgers look damn good!! I better get myself some burger action next week! Love the review but a little disheartened that I won’t be able to ogle as you say. Experiencing food is as much visual as it is about actually eating!

  3. Roger says:

    Yes, the place is dim. Not only can you not see your food, but you can’t read the menu. (Printing it on brown paper doesn’t help, either.)

    The burgers are amazing, though.

  4. Michael says:

    I’ve got to confirm what Roger says. The menus are pretty much impossible to read especially on the brown paper.

    Everything else about the place was great though and I’m definitely going back sometime soon.

  5. Gastro1 says:

    Yianni & Scott

    ?? ?????? ????????????

    Dino x

  6. Daniel Young says:

    Gastro1 – Thanks for flagging this. I’ve edited the text to make Yianni and Scott’s relationship clearer.

  7. Have been looking for a write up on this place, the food looks great but I’m put off by the lighting issue, I’m sure they’ll see the feedback and sort it out.

  8. HarryB says:

    Yes – I found the faded black type on brown paper in dim lighting conditions pretty impossible. Next time I’ll bring a torch. Another alternative if there isn’t a queue is to pop outside – there is a decent level of street lighting outside.

    Funnily enough I missed the take-a-ticket/klaxon/loudhailer approach to food ordering. Table service wasn’t working very smoothly on day #2 when we went. Ended up walking over to the terminal and intercepting people there. The whole table service thing makes it much less relaxing than the popup.

    The burgers were very good though… hope I can persuade wife to make a return trip…

  9. Sam D says:

    I agree with the decor and atmosphere being kind of absurd. The music was painfully loud for a restaurant and the lighting far too dim (it seems they took a lesson out of the Hollister book of how to make customers feel as uncomfortable as possible). The food (especially the burgers of course) was quite decent but the chili cheese fries had far, far too much salt. If they turned down the volume and turned up the lighting a bit I could see myself going back here fairly often.

  10. ed chich says:

    It’s a marketing triumph, the decor artfully done to resemble a squat that’s just been vandalised by punks, sartorially distressed posh birds taking orders, a sanitised sense of danger and squalour

    A Hard Rock Cafe for the recession you could say.

    There’s nothing wrong with their burgers, given that burgers are the culinary equivalent of wearing a tracksuit ( no confusing buttons to do up), these are definitely more D&G than JD Sports

    Books will be written where Meat Liquor will be cited as a case history to study and learn from, possibly the first food outlet to herd the hive mind of social media to enrich individuals and yet still appear cool.

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