No meat, no liquor is the slogan of this edgy, new, American diner. However, the emphasis that this is a restaurant not a bar could be confusing as you enter the dimly lit cavern with rock music thumping at club volumes.

MEATLiquor operates a no reservations policy, which means you need to be prepared to queue. Unfortunately, they refuse to seat you unless your whole party is present but, as you arrive and see a queue trailing around Welbeck Street, you’re sure there must be something pretty decent about this place. Luckily, we arrived fairly early (about 18.00) and only had to wait 20 minutes-ish, which we did perfectly happily, propped against the bar.

…an enormous shaved rump steak in a bun…

This is definitely the sort of hipster joint you would expect to find popping up in Shoreditch and perhaps it could be accused of trying too hard to be cool. The restaurant is strictly no kids after 18.00, but I’m not too sure this is one for the young-uns at any time. Blasphemes are scrawled amongst graffiti covered walls, a blood stained butcher curtain cordons off a few booths, a sign at the bar warns against lecherous behaviour – but much more crudely phrased – and the toilets are clearly labelled Chicks and Dicks. The more we looked around, the more attention to detail we found and I have to admit, I loved it!

You have to be hungry if you’re going to attempt the MEATLiquor menu. The Philly Cheesesteak (£8.00) is an enormous shaved rump steak in a bun topped with onions, peppers and cheese, and the Dirty Chicken Burger (£7.00) comes deep fried. Other options include Chili Dogs (£8.00) and Dead Hippies (£7.50): two beef patties slathered in sauce. The fries (£3.00) come in huge bowls and can definitely be shared, along with the Buffalo Wings (£5.00) and Deep Fried Pickles with blue cheese dip (£5.00).

…our burgers arrived on a McDonald’s style tray…

Despite the effort put into the names and descriptions of the food and drink (Les Nuages Rose wine is “not up its own arse”), all frill and fancy is removed from presentation. Plastic bottles of ketchup, mayo and a roll of paper towel make the tables’ centrepieces. Wine comes served in jam jars and beer is slammed down on the table in its can. There are no plates to be seen; our burgers arrived on a McDonald’s style tray, decked with a simple piece of paper, which we had to share between us. The intention is to provide simple, delicious food and it certainly achieves this.

For a new, trendy – and clearly very popular – central London restaurant, the prices can’t be beaten and the food is everything you could want from a diner: big, juicy chunks of heavily trimmed meat. All considered, it’s definitely the atmosphere I would queue for again and the tastiness of the food is an added bonus!


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MA Literatures of Modernity student with a passion for the London lifestyle...

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