The following guest post is a review by MsMarmitelover-
" We aren't serving you burgers!" said the doorman (who turned out to be Mr @pubgeek) at 'Meat Liquor'.
I wondered for a minute if he'd read my tweets about being hog tied and hooked into coming to this place by Bellaphon. This is Fat Les' idea of a culinary joke: taking a non-meat eater to a burger joint.
It turned out the kitchen had stopped all new orders as something had gone wrong with the checks. They were, in kitchen parlance, seriously 'in the weeds'.
Three pm on a Friday afternoon, no burgers, but the place was still pretty full. Meat liquor, the permanent restaurant version of the pop up burger van 'Meat Easy', has an enviable location, just behind Debenhams near Bond Street.
I looked around at the elegant arches, no doubt inherited from the Italian restaurant they took over from. Meat Liquor had turned it into what I can only describe as abattoir chic: red and black paint splashed everywhere, blacked out windows, plastic curtains, cages, bare industrial lightbulbs swinging. Utilitarian tableware included prison trays, dixie cups, enamel bowls, jam jar glasses and kitchen roll to mop up the bloody juices. Real Heinz ketchup and French's mustard bottles were on every table.
The toilets had 'chicks' and 'dicks' scrawled in chalk on the doors.
It was part Hellraiser and part dive bar.
You blinked as you walked in, the dimness only relieved by winking red neon. Fast loud hillbilly music made you eat faster, I found myself grinding my teeth. It was not relaxing. Like many other establishments wanting to bridge the gap between fine dining and fast food, there were, my pet hate, bar stools but at least, unlike Spuntino*, there were some tables where short ladies prone to cankles could wedge themselves in.
Now to the food: pretty damn good bar the chips, sorry 'fries', which were a disappointment on a cardboard Maccie D scale.
Loved the fried pickles with a blue cheese dipping sauce. The waitress assured me that everything was fried in rapeseed oil and that the non-meat stuff was cooked a separate frier. Although disturbingly Les' chicken wings "good" were served on the same tray as my pickles, fortunately not touching.
But yes, vegetarians can eat here.
The halloumi burger was succulent, delicious even.
The onion rings looked like enormous stacks of doughnuts. The beer batter was the right combination of fluffy and crisp.
I didn't go for the 'rabbit food' salad but after some explanation of what it was to the Australian waitress, I did manage to get the root beer float, one of my favourite menu items in the states: I can report it was very good.
By now the kitchen had caught up and Les got a burger. He wasn't that impressed, said it wasn't seasoned enough and not medium rare. What the fuck do I know? I seem to remember people (Chris Pople?) going on about the buns but they seemed fairly ordinary to me.
We also shared a decently made Margarita with chilli salt on the rim. The wine list was amusingly written in fluent no bullshitese.
I liked the style: it reminded me of Break for the Border, the 80s hangout which introduced halfway decent Mexican and tequila slammers to London (where I also lost the enamel off my front teeth). Yet like a cow being led to the slaughter, I found it quite a stressful experience, the dark, the loudness of the music, the preponderance of bar stools. Usually you have to queue for at least an hour, funnelled single file? a sign of Meat Liquors popularity and all part of the meat packing experience. Maybe they need advice from Temple Grandin to make more humane.
I would return for the food, but restaurants like this are for those in their 20s to early 30s. You'd need a stun gun to get me back there.
(*Why don't they do what Macdonald's did when they first came to Britain and use tilted bar stools so that you couldn't even sit down properly. Hell, why stop there if you really want to turn tables? Use ejector seats, maybe via a painful anal butt plug, so you really don't hang about. )
74 Welbeck Street
All of the above photos were taken by Kerstin Rodgers
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