04 February 2015
You cannot walk through Shoreditch/Hoxton with out being mesmerised by the plethora of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues clambering over each other for prominence.
The more graffiti and shanty-townish look to the venue, the better. Not since the Second World War has corrugated iron and oversized moustaches been so plentiful.
But amongst this sea of hipsters and innovative, sole trader start-ups there is a dichotomy developing.
The forerunners of the trendy diverse restaurant and bar movement are themselves expanding to take on more venues, locations, staff and power.
Not that I’m against this in any way, because those I speak of have earned their glory and their dosh through hard work and imagination.
But it is ironic that at the beating heart of the hipster movement, the trendsetters, are becoming exactly what they set out to oppose. But, holy cow, don’t they do it well.
Having eaten in MEATliquor Welbeck Street not long after its conception, I could never have imagined that we’d have more burger menus on London’s walls than in Elvis Presley’s portaloo.
The MEATliquor group alone now have sister restaurants in Covent Garden, Brixton, Leeds, Brighton, as well as designs on many more.
But unlike a recent trip to Byron that I would like to forget, the expansion of this popular concept continues to inspire and amaze.
The quality of MEATmission in Hoxton was apparent from moment one.
Normally walking into a darkened, eerie corridor with only the sounds of screams and the smell of meat wafting through the air would put me on edge but not here.
The cocktail bar, close seating, and atmosphere of frenzied fun hits you like a fog, and it doesn’t leave until you do.
Syphoned off into a small private room that was still in touching distance of the bar and resonated the atmosphere, our group was seen to instantly and made to feel comfortable.
Craft beers, modern lagers and an exclusive list of cocktails help to take you from inquisitive to confident, though the £4.20 price of a 330ml can of Hobo can mount up. But still, you only live once.
Burgers as famous as footballers feature on the list – The Dead Hippie TM – as well as the classic spicy wings, slaws and all the sides as well as a few new 'dogs - an evolution from the original MEATliquor menu.
But I was intrigued by the new guest burger option.
“You don’t go to burger joints for sophistication, culture and European flamboyance”, I heard someone cry (for the purposes of this review).
Try telling that to the brains who brought in Tapas guru Jose Pizzaro to create his own burger. Genius.
Iberico spiced pork patty, topped with manchego cheese, jamon iberico, caremelised onions and Spanish alioli.
At £9.95 it was a tapas-infused, melt-in-the-mouth bargain. Falling apart like a Topman jacket, I almost asked the succulent burger to move in with me. Clearly the innovation continues.
For those that have never experienced MEATliquor or its sister venues, there are lots of trays, a limited amount of plates and cutlery, and a glut of kitchen towel. Imagine ITV’s Fun House meets Man Vs Food just without Pat Sharpe’s mullet or go-karts.
It’s messy but it’s brilliant.
And if you don't quite feel that you have pummelled yourself with meat enough, you can always try 'The Triple Chicken Challenge' – to devour the Dirty Chicken Burger, Buffalo Chicken Burger & Monkey Fingers in the quickest possible time.
You have to be ready for fun, spillages and noise, but the key factors of good food, good service and a great atmosphere still apply. As does the obvious intent to keep evolving and creating new ideas.
The flavours and menu ideas are excellent, portion size is spot on and if you want heat, they can dish that out too.
MEATmission asks you to ‘go hard or go home’.