The Meatwagon is not a vehicle, it is a state of mind. It’s not where you are, it’s the chili on the cheese on the chips by the burger under the more cheese and bacon. Of your life.
Which is just as well really. If you haven’t heard the story before, after the theft of the official MeatWagon, it’s father ,Yanni, set up shop above New Cross Tavern to raise funds for another.
So after a couple of visits earlier this year, should you be eagerly anticipating the return of this under-supplied commodity?
There’s so much more to a burger than a greasy fat-drenched meatball in a bap. Without getting all Heston “it’s-not-a-meal-unless-you’re-listening-to-a-tape-of-a-cow-mooing-while-you-eat-it” on you, atmosphere and surroundings count.
But when the van returns, all that atmosphere will be gone, leaving only the main event.
With that in mind, this is a dual review – restaurant versus food.
The experience of dining at MEATEASY varied upon my two visits. The first time, dining a little later in the evening, was a blurry chaos of blaring foghorns and people standing around my table tapping their feet and ready to pounce on seats.
The second time, also a Friday, was much more sedate, less populated and pleasant. Both were different to anywhere I’ve ever eaten before.
The process with MEATEASY is that as you come in, you’re handed a ticket for each guest – just like at a deli counter. While you order drinks (supplied in adventurous and creative variation by Soul Shakers), a loud speaker bellows numbers. When yours comes up, you place your order and wait for the meat.
It’s interesting – you don’t go to experiences like this expecting The Ritz and as far as guerilla gourmet goes, it’s a good one.
Cheese & bacon burger – moist, juicy, well balanced, pink, good condiment balance, didn’t fall apart. Compared to somewhere like Byron, the feel was much more rough around the edges and homemade. But the over-riding impression was just how juicy it was without turning into collapsing dripping mess.
Onion rings – giant Os with just the right amount of grease to sizzle slightly in your mouth, I still don’t understand why places like Burger King don’t just do these properly.
Chips – if there’s a disappointment, this is it. 90% of chips you encounter anywhere are “just good enough”, these fit with that group. I don’t expect triple cooked beauties every time but when so much love is shown elsewhere, they stand out as a disappointment.
Chilli fries – …until you add chilli. I tend not to go hyper spicy with my food and these were just right for me. Warming through your face with FLAVOUR rather than punch. Grand meaty umami flavours shining through too.
Macaroni cheese – filling and a little on the bland side but tasty. Prob avoid if you want to have a big one, would be a shame to waste space!
They say you eat first with your eyes but what I think they miss is that those same orbs devour everything around you while your ears mop up the leftovers.
But what does this mean for the star of the show, the burgers, now that the Meatwagon is back on the road? Are they stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to protect the vision of good food for all versus a potentially very successful fixed abode?
I’ll be hoping to follow up soon to see what the experience is like at the new venue and straight from the wagon itself.