£7.50 Yianni's double-patty cheeseburger might not be the most handsome burger in town. But it is without doubt one of the best. Good times!
Despite the fact that I was one of the first to eat in Meat Liquor
, London's new burger Mecca, I'm probably the last person to get round to blogging about it. I've been three times now, sampling almost all of the items on the impressive menu of (mostly) meaty Americana, and have established the fact (beyond doubt) that the Dead Hippie Burger is fucking outstanding...
For any readers who don't know (er, where have you been?) Meat Liquor is the latest venture from Yianni Papoutsis and Scott Collins of Meateasy fame. It's the pair's first bone fide restaurant - they've secured the lease for three years of a premises on the corner of Welbeck Street and Henrietta Place just behind Debenhams on Oxford Street. It's also just a five minute waddle from Burgerac's office. Needless to say I'm as happy as a pig in shit about this state of affairs.
The interior of Meat Liquor is probably worth a blog post on its own merit. I've heard it used to be a strip joint - but also that it used to be an Italian restaurant. Whatever its history, you walk in to one corner of a square-shaped galleried area with a rococco style domed ceiling. You can walk down a couple of steps to a big round table (designed to be danced on, Yianni tells me, with no small amount of pride) under the dome and marvel at the arched columns that support it thus forming the galleried area around it which is equipped on the two exterior walls with ox-blood red leather banquettes and wooden tables.
The walls (detail above) and domed ceiling (below) have been adorned with a host of black, white and red illustrations, all created specially by London graphic studio, ilovedust
, who were brought in by the interior designers, Shed
. They've done a really great job of drawing on the history of Meatwagon to create the continuous mural that covers all the wall space.
Lighting comes courtesy of red neon signs that spell out 'liquor' in each of the round windows along two sides of the corner venue. Industrial cage lamps hang on wires over wooden topped tables. The lights are on, but it's still quite dark. The combination of red neon, round windows, arches and illustrated wall murals lend the place a kind of sleazy yet hallowed vibe, a shrine dedicated to meat and liquor-fuelled late nights.
Drinks are served in jam jars from the excellent bar set up by Soulshakers
. There are whiskies so fine I'd advise keeping them separate from mixers. Woodford Reserve is a favourite of mine so far. I've still got some work to do though to sample them all!
OK, I got a bit sidetracked. Let's get to the food. First things first: starters. The Buffalo wings are delicious, but the Deep Fried Pickles (£3) are really where it's at for me. Crisp, battered tempura-like slices of sweet pickled cucumbers are served on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce with a blue cheese dip. The batter gives way to hot vinegary sweetness with every bite and the blue cheese dip pairing is the work of a genius.
Before I tell you about The Dead Hippie (above), I want you to know that while I've had three perfectly servicable and tasty burgers at Meat Liquor, the first two didn't make me jump in the air and shout FUCK YEAH, in the way The Dead Hippie did. I had to have another one (the very next day). Once again: FUCK YEAH.
Essentially the Dead Hippie is Yianni's take on an In-N-Out Double Double Cheeseburger Animal Style
and consists of two mustard-fried beef patties, American cheese and a special sauce that's got finely diced onion in it all sitting on a bed of ridge cut pickles and shredded iceberg lettuce. It's more manageable than you might think and incredibly tasty. Juices spill out onto the tray in front of me. I can't quite put my finger on what's going on - but the beef has an almost gravy-like reduced stock kind of beefiness that you just can't argue with. It's much tastier than the Bacon Cheeseburger I tried on my first visit to ML. Maybe double the beef means its flavour shines through more than a single patty ML burger allows.
The truth is, objectivity isn't easy when trying to describe something this good. And, tending as I do to wolf down a Dead Hippie in probably less than a minute I'm not at my most critical. However I know two things with absolute certainty: I wouldn't change anything about this burger. For what it is, it's perfect. The other thing I'm certain of? I want one of these at least once a week. Sorry, I meant at least once a day.
Oh and there's another burger on the menu I can't recommend highly enough - Meat Liquor's Buffalo Chicken Burger (£7.50) a deep fried, crispy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside breast of chicken in a bun that comes "slathered in hot sauce" and sprinkled with shredded lettuce and a dollop of mayo. It might just be the best chicken "burger" you'll ever have.
76 Welbeck Street
London W1G 0AY
Tel: 020) 7224 4239
Also see my post on MEATliquor's sister burger joint: MEATmarket