Monday, 13 February 2012

MEATLiquor, Oxford Street: 17/20*

Location: Welbeck Street, just behind John Lewis


Visit: Thursday afternoon

To Note: the huge queuing system gives away how popular this place already is

Ambience 5/5
Design 5/5
Drinks 5/5
Staff 2/5
Extra LBS Star: an extra star for making me want to handcuff myself to the banquette and never leave!

“Ya, ya, it’s called Meat and Liquor” I heard drawled behind me as I nipped through John Lewis to this recently opened joint. Can I really criticise having called it Meat Liqueur for an embarrassing amount of time?

Is it hidden? No. It is inconspicuous on the ground floor of an old car park but the queue barriers reinforce that this place has really landed, and people are prepared to wait. And clearly from the people I heard discussing MEATLiquor its not just the tattooed and hair dyed amongst the ol’ smoke who are clamouring to get in.

We went at 3pm on a Thursday and not only was there no queue but with a maximum of 10 people in the place we had to almost scream to get the waitress’ attention for a seat. Being my first visit it took quite a while to order. I was so busy staring at the “art”, spotting new quotes or a face coming out the wall and tapping my feet to the music (and Shazam-ing a lot of it too, it was awesome) that I was grateful for the simplicity of the menu: food outside, liquor inside.

A green chilli cheeseburger and a straight up cheese burger were ordered with fries and slaw and duly noting the “20 minutes to cook” note at the bottom of the menu. 5 minutes later (?) the food arrived…and here I need to hold back from raving!

A metal tray with checked paper lining - in a McDonalds mockery - caught the burger juices which were profuse and a clear example of how good this burger was. Cooked medium rare it was succulent and loaded with chilli that were really warm and a tasty surprise (after years of Indian restaurants and their “3 chilli but not actually hot” warnings). The fries were skinny, crisp and demolished in minutes and the slaw was some of the best I’ve had and utterly necessary as a cooling agent! I would have allowed my companion a bite, maybe, but you need to hang onto these bad boys till they’re all gone or the delicious shiny burger bun will collapse on you. Oh god. This was good.

When these had disappeared we took to the bourbon based cocktails and both were absolutely divine and served in old jam jars. We struggled through two – each – before deciding that dessert was in order and opted for Pecan Pie (apparently excellent) and Quack Pie – which the waitress clearly had no idea what it was so for all those thinking of going – it’s a treacle tart on a flapjack base and its GOOD!

From the former street food Meat Wagon, it seems that the transition to restaurant lacks one fairly key point – service. We spent far too long with empty glasses, had to beg for the bill and in the end went up to pay at the till. The barman was constantly shouting at the waitresses to get the drinks out (and avoid over melted ice) and I’m not surprised that service is not automatically added – I would complain!

However I will be back again. And again. And again. Until I get a plaque on the wall for dedication. Burgers simply should not taste THIS good, nor cocktails, but keep them coming please MEATLiquor and I’ll keep handing over my bank card!

And next time, I’m bringing a bib.

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