As 2012 crossfades into 2013, Londoners can now look back on it and say that this was the year of the queue: From the beginning Burger & Lobster lay down the blueprint for a new wave of no-booking policy restaurants that continue to draw an inexorable chain of bipedal sycophants to this day. Trying to get a table at Pitt Cue Co. can be like queuing for Nemesis at Alton Towers in the height of summer. Don’t even get me started on Bubbledogs&.
The worst offender of all is MEATliquor – the business responsible for springboarding the burger-revolution in London and owner of its most demoralising queue. Each evening it generates the kind of human centipede you’d expect to see camped outside the Apple Store the night before the release of the latest iPad revision.
It was promptly followed up with MEATmarket in Covent Garden which did little to ease the load. What they really needed was another stronghold; a place with the capacity to vanquish those evenings spent on the pavement. Now they’ve found just the ticket, and it’s in Hoxton: welcome to MEATmission.
In a reincarnated building that led a past-life as a Christian mission, the pseudo-gothicism of MEATliquor is right at home with elements of the original interior – including a stained-glass window and several commemorative plaques – surviving the overhaul. The ceiling is host to a satirical work of unbelievably bad glass-art that looks like the kind of art you’d produce in a bucket during a heavy bout of norovirus.
There’s space for over 100 covers in the main area which is for walk-ins only, but in the near future a separate section seating up to 50 will take bookings, which in the MEATliquor universe is as worthy a contribution to the human race as Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin.
The menu is a greatest hits of MEATliquor with a few extras thrown in for good measure. The Dead Hippie makes a return along with the green chili cheeseburger which is now joined by the red chili cheeseburger. The standard cheeseburger is as self-assured as ever: The soft bun; the oozing cheese which is prominent yet knows its place; the right amount of salad to give it that cool crunch. Then of course there’s the patty which is cooked to a flawless medium-rare that nobody in their right mind could complain about – the texture melting yet coarse. Better yet, the whole thing stays together in my hands from the moment I introduce it to my hideous face, right down to the final filthy bite.
Buffalo chicken burger £7.50
The Buffalo chicken burger packs a bigger punch: Looking like a KFC Zinger on steroids, a deep slab of deep-fried chicken fillet is doused in a house-made hot pepper & blue cheese sauce which brings the heat, but is tempered by a blanket of calming mayonnaise. Bingo Wings are half-decent chicken wings that come “slathered” in their own chili sauce with a side of truly underpowered blue cheese dip. New to the roster are the Monkey Fingers which are battered, marinated chicken fillets covered in the aforementioned chili sauce. Also new are the Garbage Plates which compile fries, cheese, gravy, onions, crispy onions, pickled beetroots and horseradish with either a burger patty or roast beef, into a visual mess that still manages to look more refined than the projectile vomit-chic ceiling.
Bingo wings £6.00
People know why they come here, and they get exactly what they came for. Byron may be the pioneers of the burger-movement in London, but MEATliquor are the popularisers, and MEATmission is another authoritative step in the same direction. As they continue to expand they are steadily positioning themselves as the Byron-killer. But that’s no reason to rest on their laurels for there are plenty of newcomers that would love to knock them off their perch. The recently opened Patty & Bun in Marylebone for me offers a better product, and don’t be surprised to see them creep into the conversation for London’s best burger.
2013 is set to be a year of burger-Darwinism as competition goes into overdrive. Only the fittest will be left standing. New York’s Shake-Shack is on its way to London, armed with the reputation to ‘kneecap’ its rivals. Let battle commence.
food : 7/10
service : 7/10
ambience : 6/10
value : 8.5/10