We stumble out of Rogue One at 10:40pm, desperate for a burger. Nervously, I call MEATliqour N1 – which is just a few minutes away on Upper Street. Turns out the kitchen closes at 11:00pm, but as long as we’ve ordered before then we’re golden. We pick up the pace, dissecting the movie’s epic battle scenes briskly as we steam up the road with burgers in our eyes.
When we get there MEATliqour is DEAD. The only people left are two cooks desperate to punch out, a bearded waiter with tattoos up to his eyeballs and a drunk-looking couple at the bar. The place looks incredible, though; grimey horror movie chic with an artistic flair. There’s a glowing upside McDonald’s sign pointing out the WCs, last-scrawl-looking words of warning adorn the walls and old TVs play random loops and creepy CCTV footage, straight out of a Saw film.
We order two bacon cheeseburgers, buffalo fries, buffalo wings and four Moor Beer Nor’ Hops. The kitchen gets the news and the chefs don’t look pleased. Still, they lumber into action. Looks like we made it, Burger Manilow.
I’ve been to MEATliquor W1 before, which is similarly red, black, white and stylish. But I wasn’t expecting such a big, well-put-together space from the inconspicuous neon MEATliqour sign hanging in Upper Street.
When the food arrives we’re both impressed with the presentation. It’s closing time. Ten minutes ago these guys were ready to clean the grills and power down. Yet everything looks immaculate. The burgers have this kind of bacon chip crisp layer on top of them, which makes them look like chicken burgers from the top down. But there’s no mistaking the hunk of cheese-coated beef hulking underneath when I grab it.
The burger’s straightforward and simple, and reminds me of a pumped up Dirty Burger. There’s no MEATliquor sauce, gooey caramelized onions or sweet bacon jam. Instead, the burger’s dressed in raw red onions, pickles, lettuce, French’s mustard and ketchup. The patty’s thick and tasty, but overall, the package is a little on the dry side. The wings are good, too. Not amazing, but good. Routine. A bit like The Diner’s; simple and to the point. And like The Diner’s, blue cheese sauce makes all the difference.
In the end, I’m not as blown away by the burger as I was by the presentation – of the restaurant and the food. And the standout highlight of the night is probably the buffalo fries, which are covered in “house-made buffalo sauce” and deliciously melty crumbled blue cheese. Otherwise, the food lacks that special something that makes a burger magical.