We agonised over this one. We had wanted to try out burger specialists MEATliquor for ages, having heard raving reports from friends and food blogs. The promise of an early day at work on Friday meant that we may have a chance to get there before ‘the queue’….so my research started. I discovered there were now three branches, with MEATmarket and MEATmission completing the triangle. After some digging I decided the reviews for MEATmission were better in terms of ambiance, service and often the food as well…and as you could book, well it was a winner.
MEATmission is located in Hoxton where I used to live, so it was definitely a better location with more going on around it than MEATliquor. After a cheeky happy hour cocktail in B@1 around the corner we headed over there for our 6pm booking (the only time we could get).
Our first impression of the main room was pretty much what we were expecting. They have done a great job of making it look like a student union…with booths circling the more communal wooden tables and benches in the middle, overshadowed by spectacular stained glass windows. It was empty when we went in but was still way to cool for us…so when they escorted us to a separate room at the back purely for those old and organised enough to book, I was pretty happy.
This room, pictured here, was low-lit and painted from floor to ceiling in red and black.It had a great atmosphere, especially when it filled up later. Our waitress was massively chilled out about our order, happy for us to get a 2 pint jug of beer (love it) before deciding to order the infamous ‘monkey fingers’ to start off with while we worked up a hunger for the burgers.
The monkey fingers, pictured here, are battered chicken strips covered in hot sauce, the same sauce as the wings, but this dish is only available in this one of the three restaurants. As soon as they arrived (within minutes) I was worried…I could smell the sharp, vinegary sauce already. Now, D hates vinegar and anything sour, so it was not looking good for him. They were crunchy, tangy and tasty, with a jalapeno-like flavour. Whilst D was courageously mopping the sauce from them with metres of kitchen towel, I was charging through them, dipping them in the blue cheese sauce which was perfect for taking the edge off. D struggled, but I loved them. Sauce on the side next time, perhaps.
We were disappointed to find no onion rings on the menu, a detail that we didn’t pick up from any of the reviews. We didn’t expect this after hearing such good things about the ones at MEATliquor. Anyway, we picked ourselves up after a little moan and decided to use it as an excuse to go and get some onion rings, somewhere…soon.
We decided to go for two different burgers to experiment. I of course had to order the legendary ‘Dead Hippie’, with 2 patties, cheese and special sauce, whilst D went for the classic cheese and bacon (with no pickle or mustard, of course…boring!). I’d seen hundreds of pictures and wanted to avoid a totally sodden burger (I have issues with soggy bread…) so got my sauce on the side.
The burgers were good and authentically American; big juicy and perfectly cooked patties, gooey cheese, soft bun, shredded lettuce, crunchy pickles…and my sauce tasted like a very special version of the Big Mac sauce. Unfortunately, about half way through they started to disintegrate a bit. As I said I can’t seem to eat soggy bread, so I struggled with the last few mouthfuls, even though my sauce was on the side and I didn’t put much on. It might be because the buns weren’t toasted.
We also thought the meat lacked a bit of seasoning, possibly because they rely on the sauces, which makes sense for most people who have loads of sauce. The chips arrived a bit late but were thin, crispy and wonderfully hot.
By the time we finished our burgers and had analysed them to death..we decided to try out the cocktails. It was now almost 8, and the waitress politely asked if we could move to a little bar stool area just behind our table. This was really nice as we fully expected to be kicked out after 2 hours, it’s not exactly known as being a restaurant where you can linger. The cocktails were delicious…we should know, as we had 6. Mine, the Pinot Grinchio, came with a candy cane, so I was happy.
In total, we were there for 4 hours; eating , drinking and chatting… spent very little on food but a huge amount on cocktails (£7-8 each, so pretty standard). I don’t want to sound negative…we had a great night. The atmosphere was cool without being pretentious, the service was relaxed but spot on, as were the cocktails and the music. The burgers…again I can only say they were good, as I have had better burgers at other burger chains and even some local pubs. These were different though, so it’s unfair and hard to compare. This was not a gourmet burger, it was pure Amercian indulgent meatiness. So if you want a juicy burger oozing with cheese, dripping with mustard and sauce that you have to shovel in before it falls apart…then this is the place for you.
What I do recommend is, just go…don’t read all the millions of reviews beforehand (apart from this one!). Just go, and you won’t be disappointed.