74 Welbeck Street
Tues – Thurs 12.00 – Midnight
Fri – Sat 12.00 – 02.00
‘Take nothing on its looks; everything on its evidence. There’s no better rule.’ (Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, 1860).
Most of us have probably caught at least some of the BBC’s costume drama over the past few days, Great Expectations. If this was set in modern-day and Pip came to London, someone would probably have sent him a tweet to tell him to check out MEATliquor when he arrived.
Meatliquor is from the guys behind the insanely popular Meat Wagon and #MeatEasy that was in New Cross for part of the year. Twitter, blogs and newspaper critics have all been raving about this shrine for meat that opened up in a car park behind Debenham’s on Oxford Street just over a month ago.
A neon red sign spelling out ‘MEAT’ is above the 1970’s style reinforced glass doors that have been whitewashed giving it the feel that the building is derelict. The first thing that hits you is the graffiti walls in black, red and white reminiscent of a heavy metal style album cover. The lighting is low, with a mixture of white bulbs and red bulbs, adding to that salubrious feel. Just the sort of place you would find on the side of the highway in Nevada, en route to Las Vegas. The slightly sunken pit in the middle of the room, is asking for fraternity party scenes with Hooter girls standing on the large round table pouring tequila from on high.
Luckily we arrived just gone 10pm so we did not have to queue and were seated straight away by our waitress, armed with a builders belt full of bottle opening gizmos. We started with some cocktails in jam jars. The selection was good but the booze count was a little light. An extra shot in each and they would have been spot on.
We kicked off with some fried gherkins, onion rings and buffalo wings. A large stainless steel baking tray lined in a red chequered grease proof paper was delivered. The wings were tasty little fellas that had a marinade that gave them that slight kick. A second portion were ordered immediately after the first few bones had been discarded back on to the tray. The fried gherkins dipped into the blue cheese dipping sauce are proper white trash canapes at their best.
Next up, the burgers. The Dead Hippie looks just how a burger should with its double patty filling along with some melted cheese and lettuce. It so upsets me when you see a burger that has been deconstructed and looks like a kids plastic toy with the perfectly sliced onion ring and a bit of lettuce. These are designed to be messy and finger licking, hence the roll of kitchen towel on the table. Only later was I told that this is owner Yiannis take on the Big Mac. The sweet relish that is used transports your taste buds right back to the last cheeky Big Mac you had at the Golden Arches. Prices are cheap with all the burgers around the £8.00 mark, making it a competitor to the likes of Byron.
But this is where the connotation of expectations comes into its own. I wasn’t blown away by MEATLiquor and this made me feel a little disappointed by the whole experience. The tweets and blogs that have been bouncing around cyber space create such a high level of expectation and hysteria, each time topping up your own level of expectation the longer you don’t get around to going. A double-edged sword for the restaurateur, maybe? I know restaurateurs who prefer a three star review over a five-star review precisely for this reason; expectations. It is a lot easier to disappoint a customer coming into a restaurant full of five-star expectation that one coming in without.
I want to go back to MEATliquor and start over again. This time just with not such great expectations.