Atmosphere is a very underrated virtue in a restaurant. There is no substitute for setting the right mood when settling down to eat. At its worst, you’re made to feel like you’re eating lunch at work, nibbling down on food before skulking out. At its best, you’re made to feel welcome and an honoured guest in a restaurant, like you’ve been given invited to sit down and enjoy food. Places that have great atmosphere are the Cinnamon Club in Westminster and Absurd Bird in Soho, places that match up the style of the food to the type of conviviality you can expect whilst chowing down.
MEATliquor in Oxford Circus is another place that has exactly the right atmosphere to enjoy what is served up. It is the original venue, a place that no longer requires its clientele to queue up to get a table but that has retained the very qualities that made people willing to stand in line for its fantastic burgers. It’s the perfect place to enjoy American fast food, playfully scuzzy without being overbearing and a rollocking soundtrack playing.
This is not to say that its rock n’ roll atmosphere is overwhelming. Doffing its cap to those going through Dry January, its has produced a range of cocktails for those with their eye firmly on midnight on the 31st of January, eager to be healthy and eating clean. My companion and I both started with one of these, a Root 69, a refreshing blend of beetroot, fresh lemon juice and soda. Good as it was, we made sure that we exercised the option to include an alcoholic component with a good helping of Ocho Blanco tipped in.
The main attraction of MEATliquor however, is its food, and my companion and I blew ourselves out on what it had to offer. We put together a tray of chili cheese fries, buffalo wings, deep fried mac n’ cheese, Jalapeño Poppaz (deep fried cheese & jalapeño poppaz served with ranch dressing), a Dead Hippie burger and a Bacon Cheeseburger. Trying to describe it is hard, as the memory just dissolves into a montage of gustatory excess and overly satisfied hums as we readily demolished all that lay before us. The burgers were magnificent and yet we kept on rushing back to the sides, grabbing handfuls of fries and carefully sampling the Jalapeño Poppaz with its tantalising richness and spiciness.
MEATliquor is not just a place to go and enjoy food. It’s a place where you can ease into the darkness and revel in the atmosphere. It’s a place that is designed to make you feel good about what you’re eating and drinking. It’s a place that has earned its reputation as one of the best burger places in London, and I for one, can’t wait to go back.
74 Welbeck Street