Believe it or not, until a few months ago, I had never eaten at the original Meat Liquor.
Sitting just north of Bond Street underground, tucked away on Welbeck St and Henrietta Place, it was just a bit out of my weekday way.
I have frequented Meat Market in Covent Garden consistently over the years and tried Meat Mission in East London’s trendy Hoxton Square, but never had I set foot in the place where it all started. Now feels like the right time to pay tribute as it has just been announced that Meat Liquor will be closing its founding location.
KEEP CALM! The chain is going strong and will continue to grow, but sadly the building is set to be demolished to make way for a luxury hotel. Meat Liquor has been at Henrietta Pl since 2011 when Co-founders Scott Collins and Yianni Papoutsis grew the brand from truck to bricks & mortar.
The Meat Liquor name started in 2009 with their food truck, where Scott and Yianni would tweet using #meateasy to let people know where they were going to be.
The chain, known for their Dead Hippie burgers, now has 13 sites overall, including the the upcoming King’s Cross site – due to open in August, 2017. Collins, Meat Liquor’s managing director said, “We are shutting the doors (in) W1 as a heart-breaking necessity. We continue to invest in the steady growth and expansion of Meat Liquor in the UK. Having originally taken over that site from a failed Italian restaurant – in an area with no footfall and very little trade – we are so proud to have grown W1 into a site that has been the bedrock of the Meat Liquor business.”
So, fear not, dear readers! You will have ample opportunity to still get your burger on at Meat Liquor.
Of course, when you visit a Meat Liquor location, it’s gotta be the Dead Hippie burger: 2 French’s mustard-fried beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, minced white onion, and the special Dead Hippie sauce (£8.75).
On this particular occasion, my group went big: ordering four Dead Hippie burgers, one chicken parma burger, fried pickles (£3.75), two bowls of cheesy fries (£5.00), and beer-battered onion rings of epic proportions (£3.50).
A round of St. Lawrence Old Fashioned’s and some milkshakes (£4.95) mixed in to help us wash down all the beefy goodness. A meal of kingly proportions that satisfied the hungriest of burger lover’s among us.
The experience was lovely, but quite unlike my experiences at the more lunch-counter-style Meat Market. Meat Liquor in W1 is like a punk grunge bar, turned burger joint. As the BBC says, ‘with violently loud music and dark graffiti-adorned walls, (Meat Liquor) is more like a nightclub than a restaurant.’
And BBC is not wrong. Stepping inside the restaurant, you’re suddenly plunged into dark-red lighting throughout the restaurant. Graffiti and painted murals adorn the walls and ceilings. You are bathed in the dim, red light, as if someone is developing photographs in one corner of the room. Food is served up on trays and wax paper – don’t stand on ceremony here.
The tables free up quickly even without a booking, but don’t expect to walk-in and just sit down at a table right away if you show up at 7pm any night! Meat Liquor is still popular with the burger crowd, despite many competitors being nearby. There may not be queues out the door, but you’ll have to put your name down.
I already said it in my Meat Market review, but the Dead Hippie burgers are great. The peppery flavor derived from riddling the burgers with French’s mustard gives these burgers a unique flavour that is one-of-a-kind. I love the fresh, soft buns that perfectly stand up to the greasy goodness of the beef patties too.
So here is to Meat Liquor and the founding store. You launched something great and I know the team will continue to build this great burger business around London and the UK. Next time I’m around, I’ll raise one of your delicious milkshakes in W1’s memory!
You can find all the Meat Liquor locations here, or visit the founding location before it closes at 74 Welbeck St, Marylebone, London W1G 0BA – but hurry!
Meat Liquor – 41/50, beats Meat Market by a point on ambiance!
Beef (8): Peppery, smokey and pink.
Bun (8): Soft and eggy – a great burger bun.
Toppings (7): Definitely not the stars of the show.
Value (8): Value for your money, in line with Five Guys.
Ambiance (10): punk, grunge, rock & roll baby!