Meat-infused cocktails, burgers, sliders and take-away lunchtime sandwiches are just a few of the things that you’ll find inside West Regent street’s latest arrival. MEAT bar; which, at the time of writing this review had only been open for a few days, is all about one thing and everything you need to know is in the name.
From the outside, MEAT sets the tone straight away with its glowing red neon sign over a bare, stripped away, shabby shopfront. The entrance alone is full of character, yet unassuming and as we walked down the staircase and into the bar, we weren’t sure quite what to expect inside. Out first impressions were that we absolutely loved the look of the place. After you’ve passed the underground look and feel of the exterior, inside you’ll find low ceilings, booths, atmospheric lighting and a space that feels like it’s tucked away, well out of sight from the rest of the world. It’s not exactly the biggest venue in the world, but we felt that it’s size added to its character.
After a quick scan of the menu, we ordered a classic burger, a grinder burger, a side of deep-fried pickles and a side of truffle and parsley fries. We also couldn’t help but notice the selection of ‘carnivorous’ cocktails on the drinks menu and felt compelled to order a ‘meatojito’ – a rather twisted take on the classic cocktail featuring pork-rib infused rum with mint, brown sugar, apple juice and a caramelised pork-rib garnish on top. And yes, you DID just read that correctly. We also spotted a beef jerky based cocktail and one featuring bacon and apple.
We received our drinks and were a little apprehensive about trying them, but we needed to try them out of sheer curiosity. The result was…..pretty good! If you’re imagining that you’ll end up drinking a glass of meat grease if you order one, then don’t worry – the hints of meat throughout the drink are not intrusive, but still evident to where you can tell that you’re certainly drinking something a little out of the ordinary. We couldn’t help but laugh at the caramelised pork-rib garnish on top, but it was actually very tasty and we ate all of it before our food arrived. It does look rather ridiculous and these cocktails certainly won’t appeal to everyone; however, we’d encourage you to order one with an open mind and give it a try. We’re going to try the ‘Jerky Julep’ next time.
Wacky, creative drinks aside, what about the food?
The first burger that we tried was the classic. It consists of a beef patty topped with lettuce, tomato jam, mustard mayo and pickle. There’s also the option to add cheese and smoked pork belly confit, which we did. Presentation-wise, the burger looked pretty good and we liked how the mustard mayo and the cheese melded together into a thick, gloopy mess and looked delicious. It did look a little lopsided because the pickles were so chunky, but other than that it was presented well. Taste-wise, the burger was great. The patty was very nicely cooked and had lovely hints of pink throughout (the menu states that this is standard unless otherwise requested), was juicy and very well seasoned. The patty was soft and a nice, bold flavour. The mustard mayo was particularly delicious and really complimented the pickles well, giving the overall flavour a nice, tangy burst. The smoked pork belly confit was also very tender; however, the powerful taste of the mustard mayo overshadowed it a little. The tomato jam was very nice too, but we’d have liked a little more of it. The toasted brioche was light and did a good job of holding the bun together, although I would have preferred the pickles to have been sliced thinner as they made the burger a little difficult to handle and kept falling out of the bun.
The grinder burger consists of a paprika-dusted beef & pork patty with grilled chorizo, Manchego cheese, tomato compote and pickles on a toasted brioche. We really liked the fact that the chorizo was both mixed through the patty and placed on top too. We like our chorizo burgers to be full-bodied and for the chorizo to be the standout flavour and felt that there was a good amount of it present here. We felt that the patty wasn’t quite as good as the classic burger and were expecting a little more of the paprika to come through in the flavour, but it was lost a little here. There were also a lot of pickles on the bun, and while pickles are great, I don’t think they worked as well on this burger as they did on the classic and ended up feeling that the burger would have been better without them. Much more paprika, more cheese and no pickles and this burger would have been a whole lot better. It certainly wasn’t bad by any means but not on the same level as the classic burger. The grinder burger was also served on a toasted brioche, but we found that this bun was toasted a little too much. The top half was a little hard and crunchy and again, not as well toasted as the classic burger bun.
As mentioned, we also ordered a side of triple-cooked truffle & parsley fries and a side of deep-fried pickles (yes, more pickles!). The fries were delicious and the truffle and parsley seasoning really came through and made these one of the more stand-out burger sides that we’ve had recently. The pickles were also light and tasty and came with a lovely blue cheese dip. These would be an ideal bar snack if you were only popping in for a beer or two.
At £6 – £7 per burger and with reasonably priced drinks and sides, this will be an ideal choice for people looking for a good budget eat. For two burgers with extra toppings (£1-£2 each), extra sides of fries, deep-fried pickles, the meat cocktail and two more drinks our total bill was £33.
A few issues aside, we very much enjoyed our first MEAT bar experience and we’ll certainly be back. There’s clearly a lot of thought gone into the menu and we spotted a few other dishes that we already want to go back and sample such as the French dip sandwich, the Kansas-style ribs and the hot peanut butter shortbread. The meat-infused drinks are original and will no doubt divide opinion, but they’ll certainly get everyone talking. The burgers are very reasonably priced, although we would like to see a bigger selection of them on the menu, or at least a few burger specials but the bar is still in its infancy and we’re sure they will follow in time. We did notice that the bar offers lunchtime take-away sandwiches, sure to be popular with nearby office workers.
Despite only being open for business for a few days at the time of writing this review, MEAT bar seems to have already established its own character through it’s diverse and occasionally wacky menu and a cool location with a very underground, speakeasy feel. The food, while certainly not perfect, was very good and we’re looking forward to watching the bar’s progress over the coming months.
Price: Classic £6 / Grinder £7 (sides £2 – £3 extra)
+ Classic burger patty was very well cooked and had nice hints of pink throughout.
+ Good value.
+ Creative menu. The meat-infused drinks will not be for everyone but are very original and should get everyone talking.
+ Great sides.
+ Good location and setting.
– Too many pickles. They worked well on the classic but the grinder didn’t need them. They also should have been sliced thinner to stop them falling out of the bun.
– Grinder burger bun was over-toasted.
– Would like to see more burgers on the menu or a few specials.
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142 West Regent Street
Phone: 0141 204 3605