Thursday, 8 December 2011


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

"One of the 1000 most influential Londoners"
Evening Standard

@msmarmitelover on Twitter

My blog: The English can cook:

Book tickets for The Underground Restaurant here:

The go to site for supperclubs:

My book out now:
Supper Club: recipes and notes from the Underground Restaurant


Ben said...

My god this place looks contrived and try-hard beyond words.

I know people will say I obviously don't care about food enough, but this place really looks to be more effort than it's worth.

I heart cupcakes said...

Am afraid I have to disagree with you Ben (And Ms M). I've been twice now, am well over 20 and love it. The burgers are the best you'll get in the UK, including a chicken burger that The Colonel would have wet dreams about.
The fried pickles and onion rings are awesome, and I am still dreaming about the Crack Pie 2 weeks after I ate it.
As for implying Yanni is a 'try hard' and contrived - absolutely absurd. He travelled around America to find out about the perfect burger, he ran the MeatWagon out of a car park in Peckham then took over Meateasy and did hours of work that the thought of brings me out in a cold sweat - he LOVES what he does, does it well and is great at it. End of
If you don't like the look of it, don't go - leaves more room, burgers and drinks for the rest of us.

Ben said...

I never disputed that the food was good thanks, and don't think I should need to know the back story of this Yanni to enjoy it either.

From what I've read it sounds like it's a victim of its own success, and fair play. But I can't be arsed to wait ages to get a fast food feed. This bizarre reverence seems to go against the ethos of the places I've had decent simple food in the US.

The try-hard and contrived was mainly based on this:

Unless Kerouac's alive and kicking in Glasgow?

Anonymous said...

i don't like the food on the tray style. fair enough, no need for a plate, but a square of greasproof paper maybe?

i won't eat there. my loss. i fkn hate the vibe of the place anyway

nothing to do with age. it's got try hard written all over it. not what i expected having read about yanni for aeons..

Kiki said...

Ms I heart Cupcakes, Yianni did not run the Meatwagon in the Peckham car park full time; it was approximately 1 day week so not really such a hard slog. It's not hard to make a good hamburger if you experiment; it's hardly brain surgery. I agree with Ben and Anonymous that it's trying too hard. Who wants to feel agitated and upset before and during eating? Not me. Before because of the queuing and waiting to place your order, and during because of the loud music. It's full of people desperate to feel like they are cool, edgy and hip. I guess if everyone is really drunk then no one would care. I would imagine that is the goal of the management. Drinking to get drunk is the English disease. Or should that be British?