Archive for March, 2011

Short version: and I was underwhelmed.

Long version follows.


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I really, really am going to have to stop posting about burgers on this blog; such niche food bloggery is best left to the good and absurdly knowledgeable people over at A Hamburger Today. Nonetheless, I promised my loyal Twitter followers a review of Meateasy, and a review of Meateasy they shall have.

For those who don’t know (do keep up!), Meateasy was formerly The Meatwagon, brainchild of Yianni Papoutsis, a hardcore burger aficcionado whose mobile burger van popped up around Peckham whenever he could spare time from his day job. He had gained a reputation amongst ear-to-the-ground foodie types as something of a prince among burger flippers when cruel fate intervened, and his van was stolen, leaving The Meatwagon without its wagon (and possibly without a quantity of meat, too – history is silent on whether there was any stock on board when the craven miscreants struck).

Anyway, Yianni is now plying his trade from the upstairs room at Goldsmiths Tavern in Peckham whilst he raises the cash for a new van (or possibly whilst he waits to get to the front of his insurance company’s call-centre queue). The first thing you need to know about Meateasy at Goldsmiths Tavern is it’s in Peckham – or New Cross, to be precise. It’s on New Cross Road, and when I tell you that New Cross Road is even more horrible than Streatham High Road, you’ll understand why I agreed to go with a degree of trepidation. The second thing you need to know is that it’s the official watering hole of Goldsmiths College, so expect it to be heaving with nascent media buyers and app developers. But don’t be alarmed – they all seem to be quite sweet really, particularly one delicate-looking young beauty in a red dress, who was quaffing Cosmopolitans and troughing mac ‘n’ cheese in the manner of a stevedore after a Slimming World meeting.

The third thing you need to know about Meateasy is there’s a System. You’re handed a number at the door, then you fight your way through the four-deep throng at the bar and eventually order a drink, and hover in the hope of finding a table while waiting for your number to be called. Then you order a maximum of three food items per number, and in due course a waitron will be heard shouting your name whilst weaving through the crowd, brandishing your food on paper plates. There are rolls of paper towels, mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup (but no salt, curiously) on the tables. This, teamed with the demographic of the customers and the price of the food, seems like a recipe for woeful service – it’s the kind of restaurant where you almost expect rudeness and arrogance from the staff. But you don’t get it – they’re absolutely charming, friendly, efficient and skillful. It’s some kind of a miracle and I genuinely don’t know how it’s done.

The fourth thing you need to know about Meateasy you probably know already – the food is fantastic, but don’t bother ordering chips. In a spirit of thorough fact-finding, we exploited our three-dishes-each allocation to the max, and ordered a Dead Hippy burger (Meateasy’s answer to a Big Mac); a cheeseburger; a fried chicken sandwich; a protion of onion rings; and one each of plain and chilli fries. Apart from the plain fries, which were a bit fast-foody and dull, everything was simply gorgeous. Much has been written about Yianni’s burgers: the faultlessly coarse texture, the impeccably judged seasoning, the perfect seared exterior and rare inside. I can only concur. The surprise hit of the night, though, was the fried chicken sandwich – a monster of a chicken breast (made, I am assured, from chickens so high-welfare and happy they practically expire from sheer bliss) in a crisp batter, bursting inelegantly out of the sides of a too-small bun. Oh, and the onion rings are every bit as good as my faithful fellow food bloggers have cracked them up to be.

I wish I could say you heard it here first, but I can’t. All the other places where you heard it aren’t kidding, though: Meateasy’s brilliant. Just go. So what if it’s in Peckham.

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