I must admit I felt pretty cool and smug arriving at Meat Liquor, the restaurant of the moment, which only weeks after opening already has a cult following. A queue on the street will now become a familiar sight for locals, a 'begging for burgers' look in their eyes.
Owner Yianni Papoutsis brings us the best burgers in town. Originating from a van, to a pop-up in New Cross and now a restaurant in Marylebone, he has certainly upped the steaks (!!). This dark dive is located beneath a hellish multi-storey car park, animal head murals are painted beautifully on the walls, lighting is very minimal, cables hang precariously and there is a mysterious red neon glow cast over the restaurant. It mimics the hip New York diners, and with the drawl of the Johnny Cash soundtrack is certainly all American inside.
Meat Liquor serves two of my favourite things: cocktails and burgers, and I savoured every mouthful. Keeping the menu simple they truly produce the best of both. A few starters including Deep fried Pickles with Blue Cheese dip and Buffalo Wings. There are two token “rabbit food” options, for those poor vegetarians who have come along with their meat hungry friends. And the main event: nine burgers are on offer, we chose:
DEAD HIPPIE – 2x Patty, sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions
MUSHROOM SWISS – 2x Patty, Swiss, Cheese, Shrooms etc
BACON CHEESEBURGER – Bacon. Cheese. Meat. Bread.
The burgers are extreme and delicious, the type of food you want to gobble in one go. They are so perfectly compiled that there is no need for extra seasoning, ketchup, mayo, it is just right as it is. Silence fell over our table as we devoured ours. The bun, which I often leave, is thin, soft and light. The meat, all cooked medium-well (unless you specify otherwise) is juicy and flavoursome. Topped with squares of cheese that is gooey and yummy, with vinegary pickles adding a kick.
Chips are not dissimilar to the McDonalds variety - extra thin, crispy and salted, seriously moreish and in a word, divine. Onion rings are light and airy, crisp and crunchy, sweet and delicious. Food is served on lined trays for easy eating and quick clearing; large kitchen rolls are placed on the tables for mopping greasy hands and mouths.
The cocktail list is intriguing and inventive. The drinks are made by hip barman who shouts across the restaurant when service is needed: “LIQUOR!” We couldn’t help but giggle each time. I tried the Silver Angel, a vodka based cocktail with peach and passion fruit, served straight up with a little fizz, it was fruity and delicious. My friends tried Henrietta Fizz which is served in a jam jar and has a real citrusy twist and St Thomas which is sweet and sour made with Bombay Sapphire gin, fresh lime, pink grapefruit and Aperol sugar.
When is the food is so good, expectations are high, and the service could have been better. Waitresses are lovely enough, though slope around in a cool manner, perhaps not as efficient as they could be. We had to wait nearly an hour for our food after ordering… we didn’t mind too much, the speculation and excitement for what was to come only increased, but a rather smarter couple behind us, enquired furiously about why they STILL didn’t have their food after a 25 minute wait. I felt too lucky, actually to be inside with a table, to complain.
You will have to queue, when we left at 3pm on a Saturday, the long queue was snaking right round the building. And be warned Meat Liquor is open only Tuesday – Saturday 12-2, no reservations. It cost us £18 each for a burger, side and cocktail. Amazing.
MEAT LIQUOR website here.