MEATMarket – Wot no Queues!
I am not good with queues. For food or anything else. I am impatient and just a little inclined to grumpiness, especially when my stomach is involved. So, I’ve avoided the offerings of burger maestro Yianni Papoutsis up till now. Now, I know queues are meant to be a sign of serious quality. But London is full of great places to eat and for me life is too short to queue. A strategic move today though, I went into Covent Garden quite early to do a bit of shopping and figured if I found my way to MEATMarket early enough I would miss the rush. And if the queue was too long I could go elsewhere.
As it happens I got lost. The address is Jubilee Market, Tavistock Street – and you can see the Neon sign blazing from inside the market entrance. But you can’t get up to MEATmarket that way. Or if you can, I never worked out how, despite negotiating my way around the stalls and tourists. The easy solution is to walk along Tavistock Street looking carefully for a small door sign. It’s a place that immediately made me smile. Quirky signs hanging from the ceiling, a tongue in cheek menu and staff who looked genuinely happy and relaxed. That may be because at 12.30am it was quiet – the only queue was one person in front of me ordering for his family. Or perhaps it was just because it was the Jubilee weekend?
Now, having finally GOT THERE, I really did over order a bit. My excuse is that there isn’t much in the way of small dishes, especially if you want your meal to include a burger. All the burgers are ‘doubles’ – and definitely real burger size. And I wanted to try the poppaz too, which turned out to be really yummy mouthfuls of jalepeno pepper and cheese in a crumbed and deep fried exterior. But perhaps asking for fries too was just a bit optimistic.
My burger, the Black Palace was 2 patties, grilled white onions cheese, pickles, ketchup and mustard. And, I really do get why these places get rave reviews. It was very, very good – moist and pink on the inside with a soft bun and a great combination of flavours complementing the beef. Was it the best burger I’ve had in London – well no, I’d still put Bar Boulud way ahead…and the Opera Tavern’s little sliders too. But, at that price point (£7.50) it’s exceptional.
As for the poppaz…well, they were spectacular and I’d go back just for them.
I watched the table next door with the largest hot dog I’ve ever seen, beautifully presented, stuffed with all the gubbins and laced with mustard.
This is a formula that deserves to work. You can eat in at MeatMarket, at high bar tables or you can have your burger to go. I don’t believe the queues ever get to the ‘impossible’ level because the take-out/eat-in option means that you should never need to wait for a table but I sincerely hope the lack of queue doesn’t result in a lack of hipness. Because that really would be a triumph of hype over common sense.