Everyone loves a burger. And if you don’t, you need to reassess what you love. A good burger is serious thing of beauty – a medium rare, juicy burger, crispy salad, dripping in sauce with a soft bun. Heaven.
Clearly the world agrees with me, as there are a lot of diners and burger bars popping up across the country that take the business of burgers very seriously. I went to Meat Liquor in London in the middle of August and had a brilliant burger in a restaurant that I felt took itself far too seriously, while trying to pretend it didn’t. Then I visited Almost Famous in Manchester and had the identical experience! Both Meat Liquor and Almost Famous don’t take bookings, so they are known for their queues that wind out onto the street at peak times. Thankfully, we managed to avoid this. There’s no food on this planet that I’d queue longer than 15 minutes for, let alone an hour or two.
So clearly you’re all dying to know which was the best burger experience. Let’s get to the nitty gritty:
Meat liquor is situated just off Oxford Street in London and the entrance is quite unassuming and dark. In fact, Kieran weren’t sure that it was open until we tried the door. It’s achingly hip inside, with insanely attractive staff and a chilled and laid back atmosphere. Even the toilets were cool – no ‘male’ and ‘female’ signs on the door – in Meat Liquor you are either a ‘chick’ or a ‘dick’.
Almost Famous is similarly unassuming -so much so that they don’t even have a front door.
The entrance to Almost Famous is the door with the people stood next to it. You then climb two sets of stairs and then you reach a door.
Still no sign that there is a restaurant inside. Though this is a very blurry picture, the door actually said ‘No photography’ and ‘no bloggers’. To which I should have turned around and walked back downstairs, since apparently they didn’t want to take my money. Instead, I stuck my middle finger up at the sign and went in anyway.
The decor inside both restaurants is very similar. Exposed lightbulbs and rough and ready furniture. Meat liquor’s seemed less contrived to me because it looked more put together and cohesive, with a slick service from the waiting staff and matching furniture. I got the impression in Almost Famous that everything had been meticulously designed in order to look casual and nonchalant. Even the posters on the wall aren’t straight – undoubtedly on purpose. Therefore their efforts to create a casual and relaxing space had the opposite effect of making me super aware of how cool they thought they were. Both Almost Famous and Meat liquor serve their drinks in jam jars. Sigh. Apparently a glass is so passé.
2. The food.
We started off our Meat Liquor with some chicken wings. I can’t accurately quote menu descriptions or prices for anything we ate, since neither restaurant has a menu on their website and I didn’t take notes (they would probably have flayed me alive in Almost Famous).
However, these wings were around £5.00, which is incredibly reasonable for the portion size we got. They are also easily the best wings I’ve ever had. Kieran loved them so much that he still talks about them. They were deliciously crispy, covered in a spicy sauce full of flavour, with a really creamy dip with chunks of delicious blue cheese. Excellent.This was a great burger, no doubt. The meat was juicy and tender, the accompaniments were tasty (especially the gherkins and the cheese) and the bun was soft. However, the burger was not pink. The burgers were all great value, around the £6 – £8 mark and is well worth that amount.
There was a roll of kitchen roll on the table, along with some ketchup and mayo. Obviously there to be rustic and casual, but the kitchen roll was actually really helpful for the chicken wings.
Is that the biggest burger you’ve ever seen or what? You should see what was inside!
The burger. It was outstanding. This burger was two pink, juicy patties topped with soft and succulent pork rib meat, with slaw and barbecue sauce. I found the barbecue sauce a little overwhelming, so I scraped most of it off so I could taste the meat. I loves the textural contrast of the slaw. I loved the brioche bun, even though it got awfully soggy, awfully quickly. I just loved it.
Couldn’t say the same for these:
I liked the chilli on the fries, but that was about it. The coating on the fries was too salty and I didn’t like the cheese or the addition of mustard to the top. Plain fries for me next time!
Overall, I’m not sure which restaurant I preferred. I HATE the try hard hipster vibe of Almost Famous, but I would rather eat one of their burgers. Which I suppose is fortunate since I live in Manchester, not London, so will just have to suck it up and go there when I fancy a great burger. Two things though – I won’t be adding to the hype by standing outside like an idiot queueing for hours; nor will I be taking any notice of the photo ban.
In short, get over yourselves (and keep making great burgers)!