It seems the Meat Wagon has been a fairly consistently recurring theme during my relatively short blogging/Tweeting life, my lack of writing in no way indicitive of my love; some things are there purely for enjoyment. My first taste of their cheeseburger following a two hour wait whilst firmly ensconsed in The Florence coincided with my first time meeting many fellow South East Londoners, and fellow Tweeters, and probably far more than I realised at the time. It was also a seminal burger moment and still stands out as one of the best burgers I have ever tasted, no doubt fuelled by two hour hunger pangs fed with booze along with my lack of good burger exposure. I say meatwagon, but this was actually Yianni’s first outing sans nicked wagon and prompted the Meatwagons next incarnation, the terribly messy #Meateasy’s residency in a New Cross boozer.
Operating out of The Rye on Peckham Rye last year was an absolutely winning combination for me, offering the best medicine at a time of extreme heartache. When my Brother asked me what I wanted to do when I arrived at his Peckham Rye doorstep with all my belongings, I just about managed to gurgle through tears ‘meatwagon’. Ever the obliging host, he and his girlfriend (now fiance) dropped everything and we spent the rest of the day in The Rye necking wine in it’s garden, eating burgers and chilli cheese fries. It was to become somewhat of a habit…
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that eveyone I know was batshit excited for the first stand alone burger restaurant from Yianni and Scott. Meatliquor was, and is, indeed a roaring success, resplendent with lengthy queues on a daily basis due to it’s no booking policy and well earnt reputation. A strict restaurant license however limits it’s capacity to pack in the drinkers, keeping the atmosphere a touch on the restrained side. That’s not to say that I don’t love it; I do, and in fact had an excellent Birthday there with a bunch of friends late last year. Taking over the main central table, and freaking ourselves out with the crazy acoustics, we gorged on burgers and cocktails; it was suitably messy. Chicken wings and deep fried pickles became my new favourite things, the buffalo chicken burger is still the stuff of dreams.
So, the latest installment in this meaty saga is MEATmarket; more than a little thrilled to be invited to the preview, I joined a group of friends on Friday evening. Located in the centre of Covent Garden on a mezzanine above the noisy, tourist filled Jubilee Market (entrance on Tavistock Street, thanks Joel), I love the look of the place on first sight. A promising red beakon of a sign glows over trashy picture menus, a short climb up concrete steps finishes at a long narrow room. First impressions is this is serious American style junk/fast food; the kitchen set up is epic. Magnetic letters spell out a relatively short menu above the counter that, I’m assuming, will grow longer when the joint opens proper.
I take to my stool with an immensely trashy Miami Vice slushy cocktail; swirls of pina colada and strawberry daquari combine to create a sweet and toxic tasting concoction that I wouldn’t drink anywhere else and yet hits the spot perfectly here, the previous nights hangover dissipating with each sip. Waitresses waft around with trays of deliciousness that are set to become what the deep fried pickles were for MEATliquor. Poppers; molten cheese and jalapeno peppers, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried, a sum of greater than their respective components, I eat more than is strictly necessary.
The new burger here is the Black Palace, a sort of take on a giant slider (White Castle; get it?) that is as messy as a good burger can be; double burgers are drenched in yellow plastic cheese and loaded with piles of fried onions and steamed under a cloche as is the norm here. I relish every juicy messy bite as it slips and slides away from me in all directions, I think it’s my favourite of their burgers yet. There’s also a new dog on offer, a beast of a sausage that is wrapped in bacon and deep fried, those that had it were looking happy. Desserts will come in the form of soft serve ice cream with various toppings including a jagermeister version…
Waitresses screeching order numbers were possibly a few decibels above my comfort zone, as was the rattling of stalls being moved and packed away beneath us, but that was probably heightened by my, more than a little, tender state, and if I’m honest only amplified the frenetic atmosphere.
I’ve no doubt MEATmarket will nurse me, and many other, through many more tough times when they open next week; medicine that I fully intend to indulge in as much as possible.