£7.50 MEATmarket is the new fast food sister of MEATliquor. It's a new concept, in a new venue, with awesome new menu items to check out...
Wow, time really does fly, it's already a month since I first went to MEATmarket
- the latest venture from Yianni Papoutsis and Scott Collins of MEATeasy
fame. I popped back down to the Covent Garden joint to see how it's all going, and to take down another Black Palace burger...
Rather like my MEATliquor write up from last year, having been one of the first to visit the place, I am probably the last blogger with an interest in burgers to actually write it up! With MEATmarket, I wanted to let the place bed in and go back to try the food at least one more time before writing about it.
Actually it's been closed for a bit and only re-opened last week, so it seemed like a good time to revisit. Some improvements to the enormous shiny steel kitchen have been made, so I'm told, and a brand new lightbox installation now greets visitors when they open the doors:
Just to make it clear, MEATmarket is a very different proposition to MEATliquor. Rather than a restaurant, it's designed as a fast food and take away outlet situated on a first floor mezzanine overlooking a bustling indoor clothes market in Covent Garden's Jubilee Hall, on the south side of the piazza.
The venue itself is a kind of corridor of a space - you walk in and place your order immediately on the right at a counter behind which is the enormous shiny stainless steel kitchen. Then you bustle along, with the view over the market on your left and find somewhere to lurk under a series of lightboxes sporting fictional ads for all kinds of stuff. It's a bit like a brightly lit Blade Runner street scene. But thankfully without the rain. Yianni tells me the plan is that people will have their order just five minutes after placing it. Like I said, this really is a fast-food concept, rather than a restaurant - you go in, order, eat (or take out) and move on.
The menu isn't as extensive as that of MEATliquor. For a start, there are only three burgers on the menu - all of which are double patty numbers: the awesome Dead Hippie
, which you may or may not already be familiar with from MEATliquor, the Double Bubble (which also first appeared at MEATliquor) and the new Black Palace – an onion fried double cheeseburger and the object of my lunchtime desire on this particular visit. While the Dead Hippie is available at both eateries, the Black Palace and the Double Bubble are unique to MEATmarket's menu.
Also on the menu are a couple of things I'm pretty sure aren't available at MEATliqor: Poppaz, Yianni's take on American classic Chilli Poppers, which are essentially chilli and cheese croquettes that come with a parsley dipping sauce. They are totally awesome and you simply have to try 'em. Also well worth checking out is the Ripper - a hot dog consisting of a hot dog sausage wrapped in thin streaky bacon and deep fried before being served with lashings of crispy onions and slices of pickled cucumber on top. Hot damn, they're really good!
OK, once unwrapped and adorned with some fries and Poppaz, here's what a Black Palace burger looks like. In terms of its architecture I'm pretty sure it's put together thus: two beef patties are cooked on the flat top grill along with a heap of sliced onion. Once the patties are flipped, I'm guessing each one is piled with the onions that have been cooking around it and a slice of American cheese is placed on top to melt and act as the glue that keeps the onions evenly distributed through the ensemble. The two patties are piled up and put into a waiting bun that's got red and yellow sauce and slices of juicy pickles. Et voila, that's the gist of the Black Palace.
Mine was pretty well done the other day - it was probably the hottest burger I've ever put in my mouth, but that didn't stop me from loving every beefy mouthful. Actually, that's the thing about a double patty burger. It's far harder to achieve medium rare when your burgers are that bit thinner. But the flipside of this is that the burger cooking time is considerably less AND you get double the amount of patty surface caramelisation which means you just don't give a shit if it's more cooked than you'd normally like - because it tastes so damn good.
The Black Palace is, at its heart, an American style celebration of the inarguably joyful combo of beef and onion. Do I like it as much as the Dead Hippie? Not quite, but that's not to say I won't be eating plenty more of these this year. And Poppaz. And Rippers. On my next visit, I'll be taking down a Double Bubble to see how I get on with the third of MEATmarket's double patty burgers. And, frankly, I can hardly bloomin' wait!
Jubilee Market Hall
Telephone: 020 7240 4852
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