Thursday, 18 September 2014

Meat Liquor - Leeds

It started with a wagon. A meat wagon serving street food to Londoners that then turned into a burger joint in an actual real life brick building. Queues of people were reported waiting hours to get in. Then everyone else jumped on the band wagon, or should that be meat wagon?

Burger off!! I've heard the voices of (twitter) Leeds cry every time another new place opened serving burgers. However when Meat Liquor announced that their first venture north would be in Leeds it changed. There was a buzzing and hum of excitement "the people who started it all are coming to Leeds" it was reported. Move aside Manchester now who is the food capital of the north?

It felt like it was an age before they opened from when it was first mentioned on twitter that they were coming. I knew of their presence from reading food articles about upcoming places in London, food blogs from travelling foodies, and Instagram pictures from hipster mates in that there London Town. There was hype. Masses of it. 

Myself and eight friends decided to visit one Tuesday evening shortly after their 'grand' opening. Entering a building which is opposite the only piece of building remaining that looks like pre-trinity hidden down a side street. We were greater immediately by a smiley waitress who's face then dropped when she saw how many of us there were. Luckily we booked ahead. Apparently we can do that in the North. 

We were guided down a dark stairway with meat smells wafting up our nostrils for us to arrive in ... A working mens club?

This is where the apology for poor photos comes in, it was dark and rather than blind people with a flash I've tried to edit the photos lighter...

Our reservation gave us a long bench with long bench seats that were tucked under and had to be pulled out. 

Menus were scattered along the table in no particular order and we grabbed a few to take a look at the drinks. 

Most went for a can of Estrella whereas I myself chose a hobo. Partly because of the name partly because someone on Instagram had taken a picture and said it was good partly to save time. The waitress had no idea what on the menu was lager, ale or bitter so when asked which Hobo was she ran away and came back to me. Hobo was a lager. Rather than face another blank expression I decided that was the one for me. Drinks arrived along with an awkward bottle of water with glasses only placed at one end of the table. This wasn't advised and we only noticed part way through the meal when someone at the other end of the table needed some water. One friend found himself without beer... When we collared a waitress it was declared that she had put it through the till and brought it over but then no one owned up to it being there's. JSilks replied well clearly I'm going deaf. She didn't look pleased. It took another collar of another waitress for him to finally get a drink.

Further disappointment followed for G in that he was informed there was no more ice cream, which meant no coke floats, which meant a long face for G. 

JMac decided to order a cocktail, she was at the opposite end of the table from me, the furthest away from the bar. When the waiter brought it over he stood at our end looking perplexed and said to JSilks 'errr I don't know how to do this, how to get it to that end' to which JSilks responded 'shall we do it for you' and took the drink from his hand and we passed it down to JMac. I don't know why he saw this as an impossible task as there where more tables opposite ours with staff milling beside them. 

With the chaos of the drinks I wondered how on earth we were all going to get the food we ordered not only to the table but to our mouths without any being sent back to the kitchen as no one owned up to them. 

As it happened they were all placed on to trays which the staff almost chucked on to the table. We were then told what each burger was and were left to sort it out between us. There were five burgers placed in front of me and I had to try and remember what they were so I could then pick them up and pass them down the table to my friends. We asked for plates.

I decided to go for the Dead Hippy, which is trade marked by Meat Liquor as their signature burger. Clearly this was the one to try. It consists of two mustard fried patties with cheese and Hippy sauce. By the time I got to eat my burger after dishing out everyone else's the bottom of my burger bun was incredibly soggy. Myself and L both exclaimed that we were making a mess of our hands trying to eat our dead hippies. I guess that's why you get a full two kitchen rolls per table (bench).

For sides I ordered some fries and some Tabacco onions. It's hard to tell from the picture but they are shredded pieces of onion coated in a spicy batter which are then fried. Incredibly moreish. (So good there are TWO pictures of them).

I also ordered another beer... a Hopf Weiss. It was horrid. It tasted like someone had left a pint of ale in an aromatherapy room. Not my type of beverage. 

Other people's choices included bacon cheeseburger, the lamb burger, green chilli cheeseburger, corn, cheesy fries, chilli fries and we had one incident where a member of our group had tried to order a chicken burger but with cheese and bacon added but was told by the kitchen that things couldn't be added to the burgers (even if you offer to pay more)... She instead opted for the bingo (chicken) wings and took most of them home in a doggy bag.

It's always hard to cater for a large group and it is possible that this is just the place to take a relaxed informal night out with your mates. Probably not somewhere you want to go for a nice birthday meal for a civilised dining experience. Luckily we all know each other pretty well so fingers in burgers wasn't too much of an issue. Not somewhere to take your granny. She might appreciate some of the rat pack music but she won't appreciate the random mix of heavy metal that is occasionally thrown in there. 

The Dead Hippy costs £8.50, that's just for the burger the sides range from £3-5.50 each with plain fries being the cheapest option. 

I've been struggling to justify the price of the burger and have looked at similar establishments. You can pay £2-4 more for a more sit down worthy burger at the likes of Solita and Reds. If you want a burger of the quality at ML, ie street food good, rough and ready with no added extras like pulled pork, buttermilk chicken, and other crazy things you can get one for a fiver from Patty Smiths (currently tenants in Belgrave Music Hall). Both are equally as good as each other so if I were to choose where to go for a burger of this standard I'd go to Patty Smiths all the way. There's no confusion over beer either as it's all on tap for me to see and if I was taking a non-burger fan they could have a slice from Dough Boys whilst I get messy with my burger. 

Whilst I have my criticisms of Meat Liquor the food was pretty good, the prices fall midway between street food and other burger joints (Almost Famous, Solita, Reds, The Pit etc). I suppose that's what meat liquor is....

And guess what? I'm going back on Friday. Why? Because currently they are offering 50% off until Sunday 21st September 2014 if you sign up to their mailing list (see here). 

We used a 50% off voucher that JMac signed up for, the bill should have been £220 for nine of us. Half that and take away those wanting to pay individually when we split the remainder it came to a bargainous £14 each. Two beers, two sides and a burger.

I was full and content.

That's why I'm going back.

Meat Liquor 
Bank Street

Meatliquor on Urbanspoon

************************************************Friday Night Update*****************************************************

Quick update on my experience the following Friday night. I returned with three friends (much smaller group). We had great service from one waitress (brown curly haired girl with a great and dirty sense of humour). 

We used our 50% off vouchers to sample 15(!) of their cocktails (we very squiffy by the end of the night)  I can confirm that they are some of the best cocktails around, my favourite being Donkey Punch, the Yorkshire tea one was particularly nice, weirdly tasted a bit like a sex on the beach. Yorkshire does sex on the beach... 

We also asked if we could order the bingo wings as a starter for us all to share. There were no problems with our request (I was apprehensive following my last visit) and they are the BEST chicken wings I've had in my whole 27 years on this planet. They were slathered in sauce and a little spicy and definitely moreish. We were fighting over the last ones. I'd go back just for a plate of chicken wings. 

My burger was much improved this time also. I ordered the red chilli burger which comes with a thicker patty than the dead hippies two small flatter ones. It was pink in the middle and topped with chilli con carne and cheese. I was a bit drunk by the point but I loved it. Surprisingly it was easier to eat than the dead hippy too making much less mess. Again this may be because I was drunken a literally pushing it in to my face. 

The bill for four of us came to £102. Nearing the same as the last bill for nine people but with it being half price I think we went overboard on the cocktails... Especially when ordering large strawberry daiquiris which were £15 a pop full price (we had two). 

It wasn't that busy for a Friday night either, I didn't feel crowded and definitely didn't feel rushed as the waitress was egging us on to stay for more cocktails even when our food had all gone (including the tobacco onions which we munched on whilst drinking). 

Keep an out for those special offers kids.

A picture of the bingo wings... from when I went back... just for these babies. 

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