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MEATliquor Reviewed

Drew Smith gets dirty with a burger in a concrete bunker

Published on May 28th 2012.

MEATliquor Reviewed

MeatLiquor interiorMeatLiquor interiorLET'S talk about plagiarism, innovation or the often very small adaptations of an idea that pass as evolution in the restaurant business. 

It does not really matter whether this is the best burger in town – and there is a fair amount of competition – what matters is that Yianni Paputsis is actually thinking about what a burger is and can be.

MeatLiquor – that is Meat and Liquor - is hugely informed by two populist concepts on the high street for more than four decades - the Hard Rock Café (HRC) and McDonalds. 

The logistics are a complete rip-off of HRC – queue to get in, rock’n’roll motif, a menu of burgers, except at the same time it is a brilliant re-invention of the same. A punk version. No memorabilia on these walls, but graffiti like a hell’s angel’s jacket.

No MOR tracks but a sound vibe that travels along the Mississippi, almost to the Caribbean. None of that puke making schmaltzy menu speak of being ‘laced and grilled with our spicy’ or ‘the official food of rock’ but to the point - Double Bubble. The toilets just say Chix and…. 

This is everything that Mcdonalds would never dare to do. If the place is clean, you can’t see it because it’s so dark you can hardly read the menu. The neon is just a neat sign outside saying M.E.A.T, like Dolly Parton once sang about D.I.V.O.R.C.E. Loud and country.

Your food comes on trays only these ones have red gingham on them like a nod to a Frenchie bistro. There are no napkins but kitchen rolls – which you need because this stuff squirts a lot. Normal rolls too, not branded baby wipes. There is a big iron mesh cupboard of them by way of decor statement. 

But in fact the fabled Dead Hippy Burger is really just a Big Mac with a few adjustments, the bun being more structured so it does not collapse, the extra mayo is in a bottle on the table, a double patty of - in this case uncompressed prime beef which is the crucial difference so it feels juicier, the ratio is more oriented to beef than to sarnie.

But in its guts it is a Big Mac. In fact one suspects that everyone who writes about this being the best burger in town probably has not eaten a Big Mac. 

The dirty chicken on the other hand knocks Ronald’s into a plastic cup – deep fried with mayo, lettuce and red onion, the chicken sticking out of the bun at one end like it is a piece of fried cod, and it’s as they say ‘slathered in house hot pepper sauce’ not that hot and fiery but warming and reassuring like a Cajun rocking chair. The onion rings too are almost big enough to float on down the bayou too. 

Meatliquor's concrete fetishismMeatliquor's concrete fetishismMeatLiqor arose out of the pop up, (as MeatEasy and #Meatwagon – there is still a fat guy on Facebook leaving a comment complaining that the burgers are bit small) festival circuit and won the race by a short head from Pitt Cue to land a lease, albeit underneath the ugliest concrete star burst – imagine a box of Ferrero Rocher sculpted in aggregate - piece of London architecture you can imagine.

It’s only serviceable as an NCP car park and behind Debenhams and John Lewis, neither of which one suspects sends too many of their shoppers here. 

Never mind, as the web site declares absolutely no favouritism to the queuing system – ‘no friends, no probation officers, no gimps’. 

There is a distinct feel here of this place being of the zeitgeist, an HRC for recession, an independent among corporations. Some people on the other hand perhaps just like to queue as if it might be the only ambition they can fulfill – the buzz queue as the Independent called it which sounds like the worst form of social purgatory.

Personally, life is a bit short but we got a table no trouble at 4.57pm.The upside is that everything comes out of the fryer to order and from clean sizzling oil at that. 

It does not really matter whether this is the best burger in town – and there is a fair amount of competition – what matters is that Yianni Paputsis is actually thinking about what a burger is and can be.

Thus the vegetarian options (Rabbit Food) include a haloumi and mushroom sandwich with red onions, and pickles etc, the Greek salad is his auntie’s recipe. For the moment, at least, this gives MeatLiquor the edge in terms of having the personality that goes with all great individual restaurants. 

You could open one (and probably will) in Manchester, in New York, but it would not have that feeling of being London 2012. Or in Yianni’s case Athens 2012. Of being a free spirit. Of having something to say.

Scott Collins – no relation to Tom - provides the liquor with some cutesy monikered cocktails like Corpse Reviver Number 69 and Fallen Angelita. You have time while your burger is cooked to order – 15 minutes the menu says but ours came sharpish. 

It is more expensive than Mcdonalds but cheaper than the HRC which one suspects people would not be seen dead in, once they have been here. Dead hippies, in fact. Get with the times.


MEATLiquor, 74 Welbeck Street, WIG 0BA – open all day from 12 to midnight, 2am Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Sunday and Monday. No bookings.

Rating: 12/20
Food: 6/10
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 3/5

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.


MeatLiquor interiorMeatLiquor interior

Meatliquor's concrete fetishismMeatliquor's concrete fetishism

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Hayley FlynnFebruary 21st 2012.

Oooo, look at that concrete! Lovely

pollolocoFebruary 22nd 2012.

surely this isn't the best burger London has to offer?

Paul NethercottFebruary 22nd 2012.

Best burger bar none in London is from the Ed's Easy Diner chain - 50's style burger joint - 3 branches in central London, and branches in Birmimgham & Cardiff. They do the best burger I've ever had, and often stop off when I'm in London. there's one at the entrance to Euston Station. Seriously proper good burgers!

AnonymousFebruary 22nd 2012.

So where is this in Manchester? I've had a lovely burger in New York once...

paulFebruary 22nd 2012.

the burger in L'Atelier is a bit yummy

Silva DaveMarch 24th 2012.

+1 for Eds Diner, Kings Rd

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