Meatwagon Cheezborgers Cooked in 2 Ways: Juicy & Very Juicy

cheeseburger from london's meatwagonThe Meatwagon burger trailer, londonThe Meatwagon‘s Yianni Papoutsis may be as Greek as the cheezborger guys at Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern, the inspiration for the John Belushi diner sketchs on SNL, but he speaks without an accent, making use of a vocabulary stretching beyond one essential word, “cheezborger”, and two catchphrases, “no fries, chips” and “no Coke, Pepsi”.

Last night’s communication breakdown between Yianni and myself at The Boaters Inn in Kingston was less about our respective Englishes than the shading of our burger language. I understood “medium rare” to mean pink. He took my order of “medium rare” to mean he should cook it longer than he thought desirable.

The burger was great, I told him afterwards, “but could have been pinker and juicier”.

“What did you expect?” he replied, not believing I could be the burgermonday dude he’d heard about. “You ordered it medium rare!”

Rare, the default level at this pub-roving burger trailer and twitter phenomenon, is not so much red as very juicy. The Meatwagon’s medium-rare is merely juicy. The utter joy of very became obvious to me when I tried a second burger, this one ordered without mention of the dreaded M word. (When you catch up with The Meatwagon at one of its host pubs I’d suggest you not even wear a medium t-shirt for fear of a mixup.)

Yanni wants no part of the gourmet burger trade. Unlike Goodman, The Gun or  Hawksmoor he was not influenced by the New York School of Steak Burgers. His is a burger-joint burger, the speciality of American diners, drive-ins and lunch counters.

He flattens soft balls of mince by hand on the blistering griddle – no two Meatwagon burgers are exactly alike! – and only then does he season them, liberally, with salt and pepper. The burger sizzles on the griddle, encrusting both sides as the fatty juices leak from the deliberately crumbly periphery. Later Yanni squirts water on the griddle and places a metal dome over the burger to steam it. Quickly it is time to bun the burger and bed it with ketchup, mustard and dill pickle (American gherkin).

once a cheezborger chap always a cheezborger chapYanni rotates an assortment of burger toppings and variations but doesn’t really get the meaning of a burger without cheese. “They all have cheese” he tells the woman taking orders and managing the queue. Guess it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t speak or think in Greek that much anymore: Once a cheezborger chap, always a cheezborger chap.

To find out where Yanni’s Meatwagon will be next, click here or follow him on twitter @themeatwagonuk.

About Daniel

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


  1. This looks truly amazing. I cannot wait to try one.

  2. I’m so glad you sorted out the ordering mix up – so important to see a bit of pink on the inside. I consider it a gaping hole in my burger roaming that I haven’t tried the Meatwagon yet. I’m onto it…!

  3. fourstar says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, and got served – we sat and waited with an order number for just shy of two hours, only to be told they’d run out. Victim of its own success, I suppose. Will try again, maybe I should say I’m a well-known food blogger :)))

  4. Adrian – I was second on the queue for my first order and fifth on the queue for my second, so no long waits, no lasting frustration. It did take me about two hours, however, to get to Kingston from N16.

    Greedy – Admittedly it’s difficult to get a one-finger burger pink and nearly impossible to get it rare.

    Paul – Let me pretend that I had something to do with it, capturing that cheezborger in the best possible light.

  5. The Meatwagon burger remains the best burger I’ve ever eaten, in London or anywhere else. Granted I haven’t actually had that many burgers to compare it too, but it was still meaty bliss, and as you point out so very juicy and well seasoned.

    My boyfriend the non cheese-eater asked for a burger without cheese the first time we went and Yanni reluctantly obliged but we both agreed he was a burger heathen for making such a demand.

    I keep meaning to write up my Meatwagon experiences, perhaps this Wednesday’s visit will finally prompt me to do so.

Speak Your Mind