First, I saw this interview in January by Helen @ Food Stories and this post by Lizzie @ Hollow Legs. The former gave me all the background context behind temporary burger joint, #Meateasy, and the latter let me know that I could easily (i.e., using the Tube system) reach New Cross on the new East London line. Fair or not, I figure anything that requires use of National Rail is a lot of hassle.
Soon after I saw those blog posts, there was this rave review by the anonymous pros over at TimeOut. And yet #Meateasy remained one of those things that sounded good but which I never motivated to visit, and then I was recently reminded of it by this post by Critical Couple. So off we finally went.
Jon and I arrived last Friday at 6:40 pm and were given raffle ticket number 80. When the lovely people at the till call your raffle ticket number, you place your order.
At the time we arrived, raffle ticket #20 was just getting called, so we were glad we showed up 2 hours before we normally eat dinner.
We snagged the last two open seats at a communal table and Jon set off for the bar. Drinks were great (the much-praised bartenders there def live up to the hype) and cost just £4.50 each, but I’d definitely recommend going to #Meateasy with more than two people so that one person isn’t sitting alone at the table for long stretches while the other is at the bar. On that Friday evening, the wait was at least 30 minutes to order a drink, so with a bigger group, you can rotate that responsibility around.
#Meateasy’s allure stems largely from its relaxed, lively honky-tonk atmosphere. It’s fun just to be there. Servers were young and attractive, though a bit careless and insensitive when one server tried to get me to give up my seat at the table “because people need to eat.”
Lady, I’d be glad to eat if you let me place my order so that I could do that (at that point, we’d been waiting an hour for our number 80 to get called). Plus, did anyone notice I’m 27 weeks’ pregnant? In case you’ve never seen a 27-week-old pregnant lady before . . . at this point, I’m huge and it’s getting uncomfortable. I’m not saying people have to give up their seats for me, but kicking me out of a seat that I claimed fair and square seemed particularly harsh.
Mild rant aside, feeling weird about playing the pregnancy card (she obviously didn’t care), I just said our number was about to be called anyway and we’d be eating soon, so she moved on and kicked out another would-be diner.
Finally, at around 8 pm, about 1 hour 15 minutes after our arrival, our number was called and we ordered our food. 15 minutes later, our food was served, and 15 minutes after that, we were done eating and there was a long queue out the door and down the stairs. #Meateasy was now operating a one-in-one-out system.
How was the food? Delish. But you’ve probably already heard that from others. I just thought I’d give you a sense for what the experience is like. It’s crowded, it’s fun, but it has its downsides.
My favorite part of the cheeseburger is how #Meateasy lightly steams the bun. It’s all soft and hot and soaks up all the meat juices and melted cheese. Philly cheesesteak was impossible to eat as a sandwich, but I mean that as praise. The cheese, onions, peppers and chopped steak were bursting out of the bun. Onion rings were good and fries were fine.
Mac ‘n’ cheese was the one thing I tried that I wouldn’t order again. It lacked bite. As if it were all bechamel and milk and not enough sharp cheese.
Go for the atmosphere and a good time with a group of friends. Think of it as a great place for drinks with some excellent food as a side benefit. Arrive two hours before you normally get hungry. And try to save room for the milk shake. You have until Saturday, 16 April 2011.
However, if you’re interested just in the food (which was good, but in the end not worth all the waiting and hassle), then just stick with your local Byron Burger.
And yes, I know all these photos are sh*t. I blame the deadly combo of mobile phone camera + #Meateasy’s dark interior.
#Meateasy, 1st floor of the Goldsmiths Tavern, 316 New Cross Road, SE14 6AF; no phone number but it’s no reservations anyway. Cash only. Closest Tube station: New Cross (East London line); Open until Saturday, 16 April 2011.