Review – MEATLiquor
I feel like there is a lot of pressure on me to write a glowing and screamingly positive review of this new London Road establishment. Namely because every foodie type in Brighton and Hove seems to think that MEATLiquor is the Second Coming and capable of turning water into wine – something I’m sure the collection of drunks outside St Peters Church would simply adore if it were true.
Unfortunately Meatliquor is not the Second Coming nor will it have me coming back for seconds.
Meatliquor Born out of a young mans love for late nights and burgers, the MEAT brand grew from a MEATWagon (burger van), to pop ups across London, an opening of the more laid back MEATMarket in Covent Garden, followed by expansion to MEATLiquor in London and now their first venture outside the capital here in Brighton. Fair play to him, he’s found a concept, run with it and been successful. But does that mean the brash branding of burgers will be a bonus down South?
I wasn’t sure whether we would be faced with one of their famous queues or not. If you’re not up to speed with this whole revolutionary concept, let me get you up to speed. Meatliquor don’t take bookings for any party less than 6. So, if you turn up just a few of you and it’s really busy, you have two options: queue up outside and wait for a table or go home. Luckily upon our arrival there was no lengthy wait time which was a relief as I wasn’t really keen to spend half my evening hanging about on York Place opposite some traffic lights.
However, I can see why this might be part of the whole experience, like you’re queueing to enter a gig or a nightclub. It’s all about the hype and the anticipation of what could possibly be through the shady doors.
The restaurant, sorry, no, I can’t even call it that. Rewind.
The fast food joint on first glance reminded me of the kind of place you would find in a backstreet in Amsterdamn. Blacked out, hollowed windows, the blurred shapes of people moving inside, the words MEAT glaring out above the establishment, neon lighting and topped off with a hefty, surly bouncer greeting punters at the door. How lovely!
Heading inside it was a blaze of loud music, skinny, malnourished youths and disgusting wallpaper. We were seated by a fairly nice student type who shacked us up inside what can only be described as a UV lit metal pen, about two inches away from the table next to us, before giving handing over some grubby menus to ponder over. There was a large, brightly lit sign across the room telling me to SIN which was all very appropriate as I felt like I’d entered my idea of hell.
The drinks menu if you are off the booze is pretty poor. I asked if they served any non alcoholic beer (they don’t) and whether they did any non alcoholic cocktails (they don’t) so I settled for a lemonade. Had I been drinking that evening one of the many cocktails probably would have taken my fancy. Alas a £2.50 can of lemonade was my thirst quencher for the evening.
I’d heard rumours that the meat faculty were branching out to bring some fish and seafood options to their first coastal venture and I thought this would be a prominent feature on their menu. Aside from a couple of shrimp based options, I couldn’t really see any other stand out fish selection. Hmm.
Our drinks arrived and we placed our order. Starting with some Fried Shrimp – with tartare dipping sauce (£8) to share before each deciding on burgers for the main part of our meal. I went for the Dead Hippie – 2 x mustard-fried beef patties, dead hippie sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and minced white onions (£8.50) and a side of Fries (£3).
I then spent the best part of 5 minutes trying to fix our wonky table whilst my friend and I yelled a conversation between us as Breathe – Prodigy screamed through the speakers. By then, our food had arrived, carelessly slopped onto our table on a canteen style tray.
Below is a photograph of my cool, UV lit meal. This is probably the perception that MEATLiquor want you to have of their food…
The reality was more like this…
The fries were mediocre. Barely warm, I had no idea if these were homemade or straight from a freezer. My gut instinct was that these were cheap, nasty little chips warmed through in a fryer. But for £3 the portion size was generous and they served a good quality mayonnaise, which is always a plus point.
If you look to the top right of the above photo you can see our shrimp (or prawn more like) spilling out of a shell shaped lettuce leaf onto our greaseproof paper lined tray. Tucking in, I found the batter to be light and crunchy but also very oily. The shrimp inside didn’t have much impact or flavour and the whole side dish seemed a bit pointless and unexciting. Considering this side was £8, I expected a hell of a lot more.
Now for the grand finale, the main reason we were here: the meat.
Taking my first bite, I spewed dirty burger juice all over the remainder of my food and hands, slathering my face in sauce and relish. The meat patties themselves were tightly compacted and slightly pink in the centre which I liked and the pickles, white onions and lettuce gave a satisfying crunch to the burger.
Apparently the ‘dead hippie’ sauce is one of the MEAT brands biggest concepts. No one knows what it’s made of, another clever USP from the MEAT guys. My guess is some kind of mustard, mayonnaise and tomato ketchup combination.
Half way through everything began to mush into one as the bun slid about, saturated from the Dead Hippie sauce and meat juice. Everything began to fall apart. By the end I was shoving chunks and scraps into my mouth like a savage animal.
It wasn’t the best burger I’ve had, but it wasn’t the worst either. It reminded me of the rare occasion I’ve had a Big Mac or a Whopper – cheap, grubby, dirty food, ideal when you’re so boozed up you have no idea what you’re putting in your mouth or the following day when you’re so hungover you don’t care what you consume.
Coughing up the bill and making our way out, I couldn’t help but notice how full the place was for a Wednesday evening. Streams of couples, dates, groups and lads shouting and screaming the place down. The Meat Liquor message has gotten out to the masses and fair play to anyone who is roped in by the mysterious, sleazy appeal and finds themselves queuing outside come Winter.
I for one will be tucked up in bed, saving my pennies for far better places to get my meat fix in the city and praying that I never have to return to Meatliquor Brighton.