Does Leeds need yet another burger joint? Meatliquor review
In case you hadn’t noticed, Leeds, and indeed the rest of the U.K, has gone burger mad in the last two years. Yes, the humble hamburger has been transformed into an art form, and for the most part, it’s a good thing – now is a great time to be a salad dodging pig for sure. Nothing beats a decent burger, and so the arrival of several new U.S inspired joints in town has given us even more choice.
The latest to step up to the Leeds restaurant scene is MEATliquor, who already have flourishing establishments in London and Brighton. Having seen and heard good things on social media about their brand, I went along with high hopes. Tucked away behind Trinity’s Victoria Secrets, it’s not the easiest place to find, but is a surprisingly sizeable place once you get in. Entering through the upstairs cocktail bar where we were greeted by friendly staff, we were ushered downstairs into the restaurant.
The first thing you notice is that a lot of time and effort has been thrown at the brand – the walls are adorned with cool artwork and obscure faux newspaper cuttings, and it looks great. So onto the drinks. I went for the House Grog (8.50), which was described as a ‘dangerous blend of light and dark rums with a splash of overproof rum, shaken with a secret grog mix’ – so strong apparently, that they are limited to two per person. I was sold.
It arrived not looking anything special, but it tasted really good so who cares that it didn’t have a massive sparkler and crappy umbrella sticking out of it. My companion ordered a lighter cocktail and was equally impressed – so far so good. Then onto the food. The menu is relatively small, but often less is more, so no complaints there either.
We decided to go for the brilliantly named Bingo Wings (7.00) to share as a starter, and asked if we could have these come before our mains. We were told that this isn’t how it worked here and all the food comes at once, fair enough. Having feasted on a delightful Mr Nice burger the previous night, I opted for the Chilli Dog (9.00), which I figured must be the daddy of all hot dogs given it was pricier than all the burgers on the menu. My mate went for the Green Chilli Cheeseburger (8.50) which came with spicy chilli butter and red onions. To share we chose the Chilli Cheese Fries (6.50).
The food arrived all at once on a large tray, with no bowls or baskets separating anything, with the exception of the fries as you’d expect. It all looked a bit sloppy to be honest, but poor presentation can be forgiven if the food is great. So what does a nine pound hot dog taste like you may wonder? Well sadly not that great. The weedy frankfurter was hidden under a mountain of chilli, so sloppy it was more like a sauce. I have eaten better hot dogs at the German Market or even a music festival.
The fries were hidden under the same sloppy mixture, and were relatively soggy as a result. The Green Chilli burger was smothered in way too many green chillis, although the beef patty itself was tasty. I might add that nothing was so bad it had to be sent back, it was all edible, and I was also bloody starving.
The only saving grace were the chicken wings, which went down a treat with the blue cheese dip. Before the bill arrived, we got to spin the dice to see if the food was going to be free, 25% off or with free shots. This was a novel idea done for the first few weeks of opening, and it was really cool gimmick. We got rum and pickle shots, which sound disgusting, but I loved it.
The bill arrived, and at £67 for two cocktails, three pints, a burger, hot dog, wings and fries was way overpriced, especially given the fact the food was edible but underwhelming. There was a 10% service charged already added, which always winds me up, but it wasn’t bad so fair enough. What did piss me off was the addition of £1 for charity on the bill – which charity is this?! It could be going to Nigel Farage, it could be going to a charity to pay for male hipsters who can only grow bum fluff get beard transplants – who knows. I wish we asked, but we forgot.
So there you have it. I really wanted MEATliquor to be something special, but it was just underwhelming. To be a serious contender in the competitive restaurant market in Leeds today you must be either exceptionally good or in a prime location (or both), but as it stands, MEATliquor is neither. Let’s hope they up the ante, and spend as much time and effort on their food as they do their brand and decor – this place could be really special if they tried.