Imagine catching an episode of Man Vs Food, you know the one where the host, Adam Richman stormed into some dingy greasy spoon diner time after time , challenging himself to devour burger of ginormous proportion or some truly fiery hot-as-you-dare spicy wings.Yes that's the one! Now look at the surroundings and all the the waiters/waitresses serving the food. You got the image? Good. Now transport this vision of retro decor and breath easy dining environment and place it on the mezzanine in the most heavily tourist populated part of London - Covent garden. Welcome to the MEATmarket.
This is the new restaurant by the same team behind the well hyped up MEATLiquor which I must confessed that I have never been to. The idea of standing in a long queue waiting for hours just for some gourmet burgers really put me off the idea of ever attempting these premises. This new venture by Yianni Papoutsisis has yet to attain that hype so unlike the former, has less of a queue. So it was with this in mind that I thought I ought to seize the opportunity and pay this place a visit and judge the burger for myself to see if it's truly worth the wait?
Occupying a corridor walkway of Jubilee market in Covent garden, perhaps not the easiest of location to find. I wrestled my way through the buzzing tourist traps where I was offered some LONDON ROCKS t-shirts, I HEART LONDON baseball caps etc. It took me a while before I found the set of staircase which bought me up to MEATmarket. Which I eventually realised that I could have approached via the tavistock street entrance instead, thus avoiding all the hassles.
Climbing up the stairs, there were all manner of light boxes on the walls from the previous occupiers but have been slightly revamped by simply stamping MEATmarket logos onto them. A massive red and white light box installation greeted me as I landed on the first floor. The entire stretch of the dining area was further adorned by numerous tongue 'n' cheek neon signs. Even the toilets are cheekily labelled 'Chicks' and 'Dicks'. Yes, you've got it, the decor is pure sleaze and filth and the scene is set just as it intended to be - a free and easy, hassle-free grab and go experience - and it certainly felt like it. If the ubiquitous Maccy 'D do not have a family-friendly PG rating, this is exactly how I imagine it would be.
After deliberating in front of the giant menu board for a moment or two, I went straight to the counter, manned by an amiable girl to place my orders. Parted with £19.50 of my money, I was immediately handed over one of the hard beige and was told to take a seat and wait for my name to be announced.
In less than 5 minutes or so, from the time it took for me to walk away from the counter, find a seat, and sit myself comfortably down, the waitress approaches with the rest of my orders. Talk about fast food. What greeted me was the signature Black Palace double patties burger (£7.50), 4 poppaz (£4) and a potion of fries (£3).
Unravelling the wrapper , I was immediately confronted with what can only be described as a slimy and glossy looking juicy burger. A blanket of melted cheese enclosed the beef patties and sandwiched between shiny looking bun, glistening under the bright lights. This is what you normally only get to see on the Man Vs Food show - a real American-style dirty burger. It looks ferociously calories-packed and yet mightily tempting. Tonnes of meat juice dribble down my chin as I bit into it. This was a messy affair and definitely a guilty pleasure. The meat was flavoursome and perfectly cooked with a hint of pink in the middle; the gherkin were sharp and tangy; the onions were sweet from the caramelisation and even with the strong black pepper kick in the foreground, all the contrasting flavours came through. It was without a doubt, a good burger. However, along with the runny juices, there were also hidden layer of oily streaks which , although tasty, was definitely not for the faint-hearted. I'm sure my cholesterol level went up a notch after devouring this fearsome, sloppy beast.
The poppaz were tiny morsel of crispy cheesy centred delights. The chopped jalepenõ gave it the much welcomed spicy contrast that cut through the richness. There were so good and moreish that just four little bite-size portions were simply not enough.
The fries were top notch and thoroughly enjoyable. The Hard beige were creamy milkshake unlike anything that I have ever tasted (mind you, I'm not a massive milkshake fan). It was laden with double shots of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and sweet maple syrup thrown into the mix, it was like a grownup vanilla milkshake, perfect for a wind-down session after a long day at work (that is if you have enough strength to inhale the thick concoction up that straw)
Although I did enjoyed the meal, at the end of the day, Junk food is just Junk food, even if it's cooked and served with panache. I will not be rushing to MEATliquor and queue for two hours anytime soon.
Jubilee Market Hall