I don’t think I really intended to write about the latest MEAT opening, I’d heard about the latest location, along with another in Brighton to follow, and although I fully expected great things and another solid offering, I didn’t expect to be quite so blown away. Hence this short (ish) post. You already know the MEATwagon story, and I told you about their other restaurants briefly when MEATmarket opened, offering central London quick and easy access to those brilliant burgers in a fun environment along with fabulous poppaz, corn puppies and hard shakes.
So, this latest instalment in the MEAT story is MEATmission and takes them to hipster central, East London, and to an old Christian Mission. It’s spiritual home however is clearly back home in South East London evident by a number of menu credits; the New Cross Negroni has become a Peckham one, which seems to be the same as far as I can tell, using the softer Aperol in place of Campari, also a new French dip item has been given the Peckham moniker. I, along with many it seems, have recently fallen back off the burger wagon, failing to avoid the numerous openings in such a short space of time. I’m well aware there’s a large contingent of the opinion that a burger’s a burger’s a burger, but in this case I do beg to differ, if not for the simple reason that they are London’s leaders in doing it properly and continue to innovate, setting that benchmark remarkably high.
The space is just perfect; it takes the dark and sleazy vibe of MEATliquer and works with the original features of the mission to create something altogether unique, enjoyable, much brighter and more comfortable. Set in the serene square of Hoxton Market off crazy Old Street (which exit??), it sits behind an anonymous front and is the largest venue yet, with an area at the front that will be reservable. The main area is a brilliant clash of Gilbert and George esque screechy stain glass ceiling with original plaques and stone walls of the mission. Booths, that are able to reduce you to childlike glee with their leg dangling height, circle central seating below, becoming a viewing platform of sorts, all leaning towards the bar, a kind of glowing alter feature filled with a vast range of beers and spirits.
The menu is exciting, and not just for the burgers though of course these are going to be good, when a new restaurant is launched, it’s often the other items, sides, drinks, just the prospect of the new that creates a buzz. At the launch we’re treated to nibbles of some of these things; currywurst on sticks and the most utterly addictive crispy battered chicken nugget strips smothered in buffalo sauce I now know to be Monkey Fingers and the thing on the menu you simply *must* order. They. Are. Wonderful. Miniature burgers were in abundance, flying past on trays, there were seemingly bottomless bowls of Grog and fruity cocktails, but mainly the afternoon was a giant tease; whispers of garbage plates, and new burgers abounded whilst we savoured juicy drippy bites of their perfectly miniaturised versions (still wish they’d pop these on the menu).
I managed to get back last Thursday to have another look and to sate my curiosity. Despite being desperate to get my own grubby fingers on those Monkey Fingers I need stomach space for stuff I haven’t tried yet, so sadly leave these for another visit. Obviously I *need* one of their burgers and alongside old favourites of Dead Hippy, Green Chilli Cheeseburger and Buffalo Chicken Burger is a Red Chilli Cheeseburger that sorely tempts me, but what I finally go for is a pastrami and Swiss. This turns out to be one of their beautifully cooked patties (it’s been a while and I’m reminded why they’re so good, that deep beef flavour, external char and dangerous drippy oooziness) on a bed of sauerkraut and russion dressing topped with crispy shards of pastrami and swiss cheese.
There’s a fair bit of roast beef on this menu and although I’m highly tempted to try the Peckham Dip, it’s the Roast Beef Garbage Plate that’s really calling out to me, we order it as a side thinking it’ll be comparable to their wonderful chilli cheese fries. I’ve massively misjudged the portion size, what is presented before us is a plate that would easily feed a family. Piled into a large tin bowl are fries, topped with a mound of thinly carved roast beef, gravy, cheddar, onions, crispy onions and horseradish cream. It’s IMMENSE, and starting with gusto we slow as it dawns on us the chance of finishing this bucket of food is zero, having consumed a burger each first. I make a galliant attempt but eventually the crispy and slightly chewy, gravy soaked chips get cold, the cheese and gravy gloopy, and even I can’t go on, the half finished plate is finally taken away. It does make me feel a little like a human dustbin, but I’d happily swap my Sunday lunch for one.
Just a quick mention of the cocktails; Grog is a dangerous mix of rums, whilst the Game Over is a lethal combination of spirits that I’ll let finish me off on another occasion. The Pinot Grinchio might sound a disgusting mix of grapefruit vodka, apple liqueur, passion fruit and pinot grichio but it’s actually delicious and even better, it comes festively adorned with a candy cane that slowly melts as you sip adding a sweet mintiness to the last dregs. I suddenly find myself grinning inanely as music from The Grinch lurches from a relatively regular soundtrack simply intensifying the heightened levels of fun and craziness here.
Scott and Yianni do what they do incredibly, and dare I say infallibly, well, and here it is shown at it’s absolute fantastic, messy and slightly mental best.