In my defense, I did get to MEATeasy when they were in residence at that pub in New Cross, so I didn't feel the urge to rush here. You probably also know by now that I am not keen on having to queue to get into places and that put me off as well. But with the arrival of a third in the rapidly expanding MEAT chain, we felt that the queues should surely have worn off at the original premises by now.
We went early just in case.
And there was a bit of a queue but nothing too traumatic. And I am glad. Because if I had queued for it, I would have been less impressed than I was. And I was not overly impressed.
We already knew the burgers were good from having gone to Meateasy. Consensus after that visit was that the burgers were good but the rest was decidedly average. I don't even eat burgers so it wasn't such a great trip for me. I wanted to give them a second chance.
Clearly we were there for a junk-food fest but I didn't expect the food to be quite so greasy and heavy. Granted, our choices weren't particularly health conscious. Stephen had the cheese and bacon burger, I got the philly cheesesteak. Stephen had some chilli fries (which came with melted cheese and jalapenos) and I had both onion rings and deep fried pickles.
|Our grease feast|
In a way, those two sides were a mistake and ordering both entirely unnecessary. But in the interests of journalism, I did want to try as much as possible.
Stephen still liked his burger and said he would come back for it, but when pressed, admitted that he preferred the ones at Honest Burger. He'd really only said he'd come back here because he hadn't remembered Honest Burgers had opened a place in Soho.
I liked my cheesesteak and I know that there aren't many places over here (in the grand scheme of things) doing this kind of food and doing it well. But I couldn't help but be a little underwhelmed when I thought of how, really, this is just the kind of stuff any 'dive bar' worth its salt can churn out in the States. The steak was alright, the peppers and onions tasty, the bread nice and chewy. Some jalapenos in it would have really topped it off to make it excellent.
I loved the fried pickles. I thought they might come as 'chips' rather than 'strips' and they had not been shy about coating them in their batter. Tempura-style, these were not. The batter was almost overwhelming the taste of the pickle, but it just about managed to come through. The blue cheese dip was also great - nice and tangy.
I much preferred the pickles to the onion rings, which had undergone the same heavy-handed batter treatment but didn't have enough oniony flavour peeking out. And look at them! They're mountainous! Too big really.
I didn't have many of the fries but Stephen wasn't singing their praises.
As I said, we didn't queue for long but that's only the first stage as you get ushered to the bar when you go in. I liked the bar area - a long metallic slab which made me feel I really could be in a bar in Brooklyn. The rest of the restaurant did not conform to my expectations at all. I had imagined that they had basically lifted their pub residency and transplanted it behind Debenham's. The rough and ready style of that venue suited the food. This place was a lot more ROCK. Like they'd arrived, and they knew it. It was dark, and much bigger than I thought it would be, and if I'm honest, I didn't like it that much. In all the reviews of Bone Daddies they mention the too-loud music, but this place was by far a much guiltier perpetrator of that than Daddies. It was a bit much.
The staff were friendly though, and I liked the cocktail list. I had a Pinot Grincho in the end - a fruity/appley cocktail with apple liqueur and topped off with pinot grigio, everyone's go-to wine of choice. Very refreshing. And it was garnished with a candy cane, which is always a bonus.
If this place was a little more under the radar, the kind of place you could just pop in to like any normal diner in the States, I'd say I'd be back. But it's too hyped for what it is - if I ever had to queue, well, basically, I wouldn't.