Meatliquor Queensway: Dirty dining (June 2017)

Two health warnings at the beginning of this review: first, notwithstanding that I am almost certainly in the wrong demographic fully to appreciate the restaurant, it still wasn’t very good; next, this is in no sense a place to consider going should you care about your health. Nonetheless, Meatliquor clearly is doing something right since its empire now spans a dozen venues located not just in London, but also further afield, in Bristol and Leeds. Visiting their Queensway venue on a recent weekday night, I was reminded about all of the good and bad elements of being a student again: in other words, going here, you can be forgiven for eating irresponsibly with gay abandon, but the experience is most insalubrious. It’s less about the dishes on offer which go by such appealing names as ‘dead hippie’, ‘tower block burger’ (surely, slightly bad taste at present?) and ‘filth pie,’ but more about being presented with a roll of kitchen paper with which to clean one’s hands and having half-empty bottles of ketchup scattered around the place. Yes, I ‘get’ the angle of being ‘urban’ and ‘dirty’ (hence the graffiti-adorned walls and on-trend music), but surely a little more effort would not be too much to ask? Service was mixed: enthusiastic but inattentive, with sometimes excessively long waits for drinks. Onto the food, and I could feel my arteries clogging as we ploughed through onion rings, chicken wings and the like for starters. The basic formula at Meatliquor seems to be coating almost anything in batter and then deep-frying it within an inch of its life. The spicy chicken wings took the concept a step further, coating the poor dead bird in a sharp but seriously unsubtle spicy sauce, which left almost all our group gasping for liquid. My burger – the green chilli cheeseburger – was hard to fault, but then how wrong can one go with such an item? That said, my gripe with many burger places (including this one) is that their offerings are simply too big – it’s almost impossible to get the whole thing in one’s mouth comfortably, and when bits squeeze out (as they inevitably do), there is no cutlery to deal with the remains. At least you don’t over-pay for the experience: most sides come in at around £5-6 and most mains below £10. That said, and although our group mostly stuck to beer, I could not help noticing a somewhat egregious 400%(!) mark-up on one of the wines listed here. Conclusion: fine dining this certainly ain’t. The bowling at Queensway is fun, but eating at the venue after can, at best, be most charitably described as a means to an end.