They’re at it again. The meat-lovin’ crew that gave us Meat Wagon (a roving burger truck), Meat Liquor (burgers and booze) and Meat Market (above a Covent Garden market) have just spawned this Shoreditch offshoot. If you haven’t got the hang of the naming convention by now, this place serves meat in a mission – a former Christian mission. The plaque on the wall, dated 1915, pronounces that the building first opened with the aim of doing good works. We’re not sure what the aim of the current tenant is, but we do know that it focuses very (very) hard on being trendy.
The windowless main room is dark and grungy, with light only via a new stained glass ceiling – a diabolical expression of the Last Supper, where demonic skeletons break bread with sinister-looking hogs, and an all-seeing ‘Eye of Providence’ watches while you eat.
The music was more upbeat, on our visit veering from Nancy Sinatra to Shuggie Otis then Dolly Parton. Original features, such as the parquet floor, are juxtaposed by rough, back-to-basics elements: tables made from salvaged boards; glass demijohns (the kind used for home-brewing) hanging from the bar.
The cooking is equally rough ’n’ ready: alongside the burgers that made the Meat brand famous are new dishes, such as those served ‘onna plate’. Ours, a ‘chilli garbage plate’, was a dishevelled composition that began with a layer of fries, then chilli, then a beef burger patty, topped with melted cheese, finely diced onion and jalapeno, and a final drizzle of French’s mustard. Unfortunately, while this dish’s individual components delivered on texture and flavour, the sum of these parts, presented as a soggy, amorphous mass, did not equate to greater than the whole. Dinner for your dog, yes: dinner for you, not so much. Better was our ‘Peckham dip’, which saw folds of thinly-sliced beef heaped into a soft bun with sweet caramelised onions and a deeply bovine pot of gravy for dipping.
Service was over-eager to the point of being irritating. Our starter plate was whisked away while we were still chewing, and at one point, three waitresses in rapid succession interrupted us to ask the same question. Meat Mission looks great as a bar, but as a restaurant, it'll have to work harder to convert the unbelievers.
By Tania Ballantine