#MEATEASY is the creation of Yianni Papoutsis. He had a famous Burger van that unfortunately got stolen a few months ago. Due to a combination of his regular customers demanding his food, and Yianni’s business acumen, he made a deal with the owners of a currently closed pub in New Cross, that while it is being refurbished, he could use the upstairs area to do whatever he’d like. This was the birth of #MEATEASY. The # symbol before the name signifies how Yianni spread the word through social media sites especially twitter.
Being a person who is always pursuing the search for the perfect burger and steak, I decided to see what Yianni had to offer. I had no idea where New Cross was, but it was surprisingly only half an hour on a train, and I live in South West London. With less than a 5 minute walk from New Cross Gate rail station, you find the Goldsmiths tavern. The door on the left of this, is the entrance to #MEATEASY. You walk through a couple of doors and then go upstairs. Once I entered, at about 6pm, it wasn’t too busy yet, so we had a pick of tables to sit at. The walls are covered with pages of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and there is a speaker tanoy system for calling out the numbers of raffle tickets. You receive said raffle ticket when you enter, and when your number is called, you go up to the till and place your order. You cannot reserve any tables and it is first come first serve.
The food had arrived, and I had ordered the Cheeseburger (£6), Onion rings (£3) and the Chilli Cheese Fries (£5). The cheeseburger was awesome. From the first bite, it was big, very juicy, pink and in a very nice sourdough bun that I think must have been slightly steamed (This is usually done by splashing a touch of water on the bun while it’s on the grill and then covering with a bowl) This created a lovely gloss and soft texture to it. I made my obligatory burger sauce of half french’s mustard and half ketchup to make it even more to my liking. The onion rings were the crispest pieces of batter I have ever crunched into, I was very impressed. The chilli cheese fries were also very flavoursome, the fries were covered in chilli con carne with a touch of french’s mustard on the top. I really enjoyed all of it, but the Cheeseburger was the star of the show. As soon as I finished it, I had a craving to have another one, but I thought I would try to have some restraint.
Myself and “the Date” had a few drinks from the bar, which is manned by some hot shot cocktail makers from Soul Shakers. One of them was wearing just an apron and a wrestling mask, which was quite strange but it put a smile on everyone’s face. They have a slush puppy machine which had margarita mix on the night we were there, which is topped up with a touch of lager at the end to make the drink a “Lagerita”. I don’t think this added anything to the drink taste-wise, but is was a very good Margarita nonetheless. All the cocktails are served in jam jars which i think is a quirky nice touch, and also keeps costs down of course! There was also a really good mix of music all night , from grunge to funky house, which kept everyone upbeat. The staff were extremely friendly and looked like they really enjoyed working at this microcosm of fun. The place got really busy by 7:30pm but this just added to the atmosphere. The place has so many quirky aspects to it, I think you either embrace it and enjoy yourself, or moan that it’s trying to be too East London/Shoreditch-esque wannabe cool. But I am firmly in the first camp. I hadn’t been in such a buzzing place for a while, and I had a whale of a time all night. The place just made me smile. I went on a Saturday, but I was told by a waitress that friday nights are usually the music nights where they get a dj and go onto the early hours. If you don’t want to wait long for your food, I would recommend going at about 6pm, but personally I think it would be absolutely fine to go at anytime in the evening, because you can always soak up the atmosphere and have a few tasty cocktails while you wait.
Verdict: Some of the best burgers in the UK (very reasonably priced – £6 for the cheeseburger), good music, buzzy atmosphere and a fun and quirky setting. Come here if you want a great evening out with friends. It is a bit of a trek, but not as bad as you think, and well worth the pilgrimage. I cannot wait to go back. Be quick though,#MEATEASY is closing for good on April 16th. So I urge you to go, embrace the raw atmosphere and fun of this temporary venue while you can. And Yianni, please can I have the burger recipe?
Above Goldsmiths Tavern
316 New Cross Road
Nearest tube/train: New Cross Gate rail & New Cross tube
Meal for 2 including a couple of beers and a cocktail: £40
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 6pm – 11pm for food, later for drinks. CASH ONLY.