If you’re a follower of instagram you’ll have noticed almost every celebrity sharing photos of burger joint MEATliquor, or one of its various incarnations (MEATmarket, MEATmission, MEATwagon). MEATliquor is one of the leading figures in the American food wave that has seemed to engulf the London food scene. Burger/Hotdog/Burrito joints are popping up everywhere with each one trying to create an even more preposterous niche than the other.
In a market saturated with blue cheese and avocado Meatmarket stands out for one reason: how ridiculously unpretentious it is. The ‘Meat’ chain do not use guest lists, napkins, seating plans or really any plates. Everybody queues, then sits next to strangers (which can be a bit awkward on a date) and gets their food served on canteen style trays, with bowls only being provided for mushy items like chips and coleslaw. Even sauces come prepackaged. Some may say this is a cold or a ridiculously hipster ‘anti-establishment’ approach. I say it’s genius as it lets the food speak without being interrupted by ponce.
With my Instagram research done I headed with high hopes to the smaller of the ‘Meat’ chain, Meatmarket. Tucked away above Covent Garden Market, it is easy to say that this is probably the least glamorous of all the Meat locations; it looks like the swimming pool/ leisure centre cafe’s of my childhood, the ones that seemed to endlessly supply slush puppies and chicken nuggets to awaiting crowds of wet haired children. In fact, Meat Market has a slush puppy machine, though instead the of luminous E number riddled offering of the past, the people at Meat have utilized them as handy cocktail machines.
Now onto the meat. To be honest, even though there is a vegetarian option on the menu, this chain is for meat lovers (er, hence the title). In honour of this I went for the aptly named ‘dead hippie’ burger, a regular monster of a burger that appears on every meat menu ( food varies between locations). I didn’t have to wait long for my food and after helping myself to a refillable soft drink (again very 90’s swimming centre) I escaped the artificial lighting of the venue to enjoy my monster of a lunch in the sun. And boy was it a dinner and a half. After taking my first bite I realised why the meat market venues were so, well sleazy; this was a dirty burger. The ‘dead hippie’ sauce that gives the burger its name is packed full of pepper and tang, bring to mind a supercharged big mac sauce, except, you know, without the semen and spit of disgruntled spotty teenagers.The bun was soft and fluffy, squidgy from the meat juice but not mangled in wetness.
For me, the highlight was the patties. I’m sick of massive hunks of meat that make the burger completely impossible to bite, which is why I loved the two thin patties snuggled in the dead hippie- it was enough meat to please but not too much to over power. The beef worked with the sauce, cheese, onions and salad to create a symphony of flavour that translated to being one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. For me, it didn’t matter that the chips weren’t really my thing (nice but a bit thin). I came for meat, and I got meat. Meat Market burgers are a tribute to what a burger should be; not an artisan pursuit, gentley layered with goats cheese and beet root, but a dirty, sexy concoction of fried onion and melted american cheese that coats your arteries and your cheeks. Bravo