The quote(s) are apposite too for as we sit at our table, the food is just so damn good that controlling your appetite is the menu du jour, not the feast scribed on the board and not the feast in front of you; it's not man versus food, it's man versus greed. Heaven or hell?
This nod to the underground, these progenitors of the hippie movement are reflected in not only in an eponymous burger but in a broader iconoclastic attitude to 'being a restaurant'. This isn't a restaurant though so it hardly matters, it's a good time waiting to be enjoyed.
We know that we're late to the party, we should have got here earlier, and we don't mean minutes or hours earlier, we mean days, weeks, months even. What can we say, we had stuff going on. We can say however that we're glad we're here and we're determined to try everything Meateasy offers; let the feast begin.
Actually, before we even get to the food, there are two more things worth commenting on. The first is Yianni, the man behind Meateasy; he's special. There's a genius to combining laid back friendly with brilliant business acumen and he has it. The place is crazy busy, and even by six pm there's hardly room for newcomers giving rise to a rush to food. But what might seem like chaos is in fact ordered meritocracy in the now well known 'raffle ticket' system. Love it or hate it, how else should rampant desire be harnessed?
Indeed, the sheer buzz of the place means that it's hard to take issue with for the whole room pulses its own happy vibe, so the wait really doesn't seem that long. Put another way, Yianni's talent has been to both create excessive demand and manage that demand so that even waiting for the food seems like an essential part of the enjoyment of the experience. No mean feat. A shout too to those who work there, they seem as happy as the guests and help stir up the ongoing party atmosphere with contagious enthusiasm.
Second, the drinks from the bar are awesome. Yes, you do drink cocktails from a jam jar though if doing so seems sufficiently alien to put you off, perhaps you were never meant to be there in the first place. If there's one thing at least you can say about Measteasy without contradiction it is that it doesn't stand on ceremony. Back to the drinks, bar staff are formerly Milk & Honey and Hix Bar, pretty damn impressive and the reason that no cocktail menu is required, these are real deal shakers, just ask them for what you want, they can make it. The quality can wrong foot you for sure because you just don't expect it to be the case, but the drinks, made to order without menu and without formula are seriously good.
A buzzing atmosphere, good company and amazing drinks, the wait for the food is not such a wait but if it were, it would still be worth it. We're in a large group today so we can eat across the menu. The food broadly arrives together so where to start?
Cut to the chase here, the star of the show is the burger, no doubt. It's close to perfect. The burger itself is perfectly medium rare (Maze Grill are you watching?), the cheese, the bun, the balance, the texture, all brilliant. There's tomato sauce on the table but nothing needs to be added to this burger because it already arrives the finished article. We start debating is this the best burger in the world. Who knows, but the very fact it's a contender says everything.
The chilli cheese dog was another real taste of authentic American street food. Like all the food served here, the bread was bursting in its attempts to hold the piled high filling. Several around the table had the hot dog and everybody loved it. Some chose it in preference to the burger. For us, the burger still rules but this real deal dog was also pretty damn good.
Onion rings were excellent examples of the kind, crispy but with no greasiness to them at all. Finally, the chicken burger, overflowing the bun like everything else here, was good stuff, though for choice, don't pass over a cheese burger for a chicken burger as you'd be trading great for good.
As we get up to leave, we notice a sign outside the window, 'new fitness suite' it reads, 'open to the public'. It mocks.
Meateasy opened in 2011 to as much acclaim as Heston's Dinner, perhaps more so. However, if you want to eat at Dinner, you'll have to wait till June and it will cost you a small fortune. If you want to east at Meateasy meanwhile, just turn up, but get there early because you wont be alone. Our trip to New Cross was long overdue but totally worth it. If you've not yet been there, 'buy the ticket, take the ride' for Meateasy really is a special place.
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