Saturday, 3 December 2011

Meat Liquor–Burger Heaven

Restaurant: Meat Liquor
Corner of Wellbeck & Henrieta - Bond Street
The burger: Dead Hippie

We’ve learnt that its wise to follow Nick Andrew’s advice recently. And so to Meat Liqour, near Bond Street tube.  I don’t know why all these incredible, dirty, greasy, beefy burger joints are starting to appear in London but we are beginning to become obsessed. 
Meat Liquor has a no reservation policy, which is very annoying for someone who likes a plan, and very convenient for the restaurant, which has a 40 minute queue out of the door at all times.  We joined the queue in the rain, but I have to say just got more and more excited by the sweet smell of seared beef fat. 
Finally we were allowed in. Inside its pretty cool, it has a whiff of the cro-bar about it (my favourite spot in Soho).  With writing on the wall, metal/punk themed decor, red lighting and loud music, the place is achingly cool.
Once in we realised we had to join a different queue – the queue of people drinking at the bar waiting for a table.  The bar serves bottles of beer (Meantime brewery is well represented) and an extensive selection of cocktails, ice for which is hacked off a gleaming berg in an underlit butler sink with a Wickes wood chisel – nice touch.
We went for a Donkey Punch (I googled this and every recipe is different – this had absinthe and ginger beer as well as other stuff in it – nice and refreshing, I love ginger in cocktails) a Paloma (tequila and grapefruit – simple and refreshing) and an awesome recipe which we have had before (Using Sazerac - @ Barbecoa), called a "St Lawrence", using Woodford Reserve bourbon, maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, bitters and ice. As you can see, its all served up a little differently, in this case a, er, jam jar.
These were incredible!  Between three of us we had eight of these over the course of the evening.  Yes, eight - but Cuan had four and was happy to have more!

Finally we got to sit down and order.  We were making our orders a grand total of 100 minutes since we joined the queue.  Plan ahead – do not go there already starving because you will be driven insane by the time you get to eat.
We were just saying (bellowing, actually, over the music) as we waiting at the bar that the place needs bar wings – 48 wings, blue cheese and ranch would have made the wait a bit easier definitely.  We found them on the starter menu so ordered two portions and a portion of deep fried pickles (large gherkins sliced on the vertical, battered and deep fried). 
The food comes just on big baking sheets (standard catering aluminium baking sheets) and all the starters came on one sheet for all three of us – a pile of wings drenched in franks hot sauce and a small pile of fried pickles on the side, blue cheese and ranch sauces. 
The wings were outstanding, easily the best we’ve had in a restaurant in the UK, I’d say as good as Willies in Kansas City (although Cuan would not agree), but probably not quite as good as my smoked and deep fried wings (but they’re a labour of love).  I’d go back just for these - especially as they are using Franks Red Hot.  The deep fried pickles were a destination event – I’ve read about these many times but never believed they were going to work if I tried them and never seen them in a restaurant.  They’re like vinegary onion rings a bit – the batter/filling relationship is a bit like that in a deep fried dessert, where its kind of soggy on the inside but crisp on the outside.  Very compelling actually, I’ll be revisiting these.
Onto the burgers.  These came on a large baking sheet, three of them, two piles of onion rings and a couple of portions of fries.  We all went for the dead hippie – a double cheese burger with lettuce and coleslaw, more sliced gherkin and a big mac style sauce.  Good lord they were incredible.
Proper shiny buns, small, beautiful patties of really beefy, beefy beef.  While I was posing for this photo (waiting for Cuan to operate his phone camera) the grease was just running down my hand.  Oh god I’m hungry.
Cooked medium rare this is a celebration of what is best about burgers – beef, lots of topping, cheap American cheese, and soft brioche buns.  You can see the onion rings in the background – they were massive and well executed but not in the same league as everything else we’d had.  Somehow with the high street staples (GBK, etc.) we’ve ended up with dry, very fat patties and chilli sauce and weird stuff like that (Byron’s is better but not that great).  This isn’t what burgers are supposed to be like.  I should be able to have two patties and have beef grease dripping down my hands but not feel like I’m just chewing through a load of dry Sainsburys mince.  And have proper attention to the toppings and the bun – each mouthful here is an explosion of beef, salad and mayo, onions and pickles and all framed by a proper, soft, bad-for-you bun.  Glorious.
We rolled out of Meat Liquor each fifty quid lighter (remember we had ten cocktails in total) but extremely impressed.  I can’t wait to go back – just make sure to establish your queuing strategy ahead of time.
Verdict: Outstanding. 

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