Last Saturday I found myself in London with no plans and no mates. This might sound like a sorry state of affairs but it was fabulous. I had a solo adventure. Not something I have ever done before but certainly something I will be doing again. The world was my oyster, I could do whatever I wanted. Spontaneity was the word of the day.
After a trip across London to the wonderful Brockley Market, a last minute decision to see a matinee in the West End and a spot of shopping on Tottenham Court Road, I decided to grab some dinner before heading back to North London.
I’d heard about Meat Liquor on Twitter and had been meaning to try it out for a while. I knew there was a no reservation policy and that people have been known to queue for hours but it was about 5:30pm, early by evening meal standards, so I thought I might manage to miss the queue.
I walked from Goodge Street and got slightly lost as I turned the wrong way down Welbeck Street (not good when you think every second counts to miss that queue). So to avoid this, you should know that it’s basically right behind Debenhams on Oxford Street and the door looks a little something like this.
Unfortunately my fantasy of waltzing straight in turned out to be just that. There was a queue, it was quite big, I was unsure about whether to cut my losses or hold tight.
I decided that I would join the queue and then when the front of house chap or lady came to take my name, I would ask how long the wait was likely to be and make a decision about whether to stay or go. Surely as I was on my own it would be easy to squeeze me in!?!
So I waited and I waited. The queue shuffled down a bit and I waited some more. After about 20 minutes I realised that no one was coming. I was all alone. My phone had died. I had no idea how long this was going to take but at least it wasn’t raining.
I should explain at this point that I had expected to find out the length of the wait fairly quicly because I had expected Meat Liquor to be very similar to Pitt Cue Co. It wasn’t. Yes, they are super popular, fairly new, endlessly talked about on Twitter and are infamous for their massive queues but this is where the similarity ends.
At Pitt Cue Co we put our name on a list straight away and once we got through the front door we sat in the bar for over 2 hours waiting for a table. Meat Liquor was an entirely different proposition, I had absolutely no communication with the staff until I got through the front door but once I was in, I went to the bar, got a drink and was seated pretty quickly.
The other main difference was that Pitt Cue Co is more of an eat your meal and get outta there sort of place. It’s tiny, it doesn’t have a huge amount of atmosphere, it is basically all about the food (which is exceptional). Meat Liquor on the other hand is big, so much bigger than I expected. It has LOUD music, graffiti all over the walls (some of which is rather bossy) and a real party atmosphere.
Strangely, it was actually quite a good place to go alone. It was so dark and so loud that I felt fairly inconspicuous. However, with friends, this is the sort of place that (much to the annoyance of the increasing queue outside) you could happily spend an entire evening eating food, drinking cocktails and having a grand old time.
I had such a good time on my solo visit that I returned on Wednesday armed with a friend and camera. Twice in one week. I think that says it all.
The food is fantastic. Not creative. Not imaginative. Not refined. Just basic American diner food done very very well indeed. You need to arrive with an appetite, a serious appetite for a greasy stodgy delicious feast and all things bad for you.
The main event is the burger, which is pretty much perfect and should not be missed. However there are also lots of other treats to try.
The chicken wings slathered in hot pepper sauce were delicious. Not at all spicy, just really flavoursome and addictive. For £5 you get a huge pile of them and try as I might, I just couldn’t stop poking them down.
The deep fried pickles were also good. Served with a blue cheese dip, I think my arteries were espeically grateful for that part of my order.
The chilli cheese fries are basically hangover heaven. A mountain of fries, chilli, cheese, onions, jalapeños and mustard. It looks dirty and it tastes dirty, but in a good way. The chilli is more tangy than spicy but somehow that makes it really morish. In fact, forget the hangover, this would be the perfect food for the end of a hard night’s drinking!
Then on to the main event. There are 9 or 10 burgers on the menu and I went for the classic cheeseburger. It was an original at the Meat Wagon (where Meat Liquor began) so it seemed an obvious choice. Served in a soft white bun, it comes with red onions, pickles, lettuce, mustard and ketchup. One of the best burgers I have ever eaten and undoubtedly the best burger in London for only £6.50.
Our food was washed down nicely with the house cocktails, served in jam jars or silver cups. I tried quite a few but my favourite was the Donkey Punch which consisted of vodka, lime, ginger beer and absinthe. They also do a house grog, which is limited to 2 servings per person because it is so strong. That is just how they roll at Meat Liquor, they like their food dirty and their liquor hard.
So in conclusion, I think Meat Liquor is great. Following my two visits I give it an 8/10.
If you want a burger and a good time then this is the place to go.
If Covent Garden is more convenient for you then you might prefer Meat Market, run by the same team.
Queuing at Meat Liquor
I would have liked to have had a bit more information about the waiting time when I arrived at Meat Liquor so based on my two visits I can tell you that:
- Looking at the photo below, if you queue from where the undercover area ends and it spills out onto the street, you are likely to wait 45 – 60 minutes to get to the bar.
- Once at the bar, you should get a table within 15 – 30 minutes.
- On a Wednesday (and therefore assumably a Monday – Thursday) no queue started forming until about 6:30 – 7pm.
- The photo below shows the queue on a Wednesday at about 8:30pm.
If you have any other queuing tips or info, please add a comment below. The more info the better!