Meat Liquor: you know the drill by now. Its restaurants are dark, noisy and covered with the kind of chaotic graffiti that makes a mild headache a migraine. There’s the ace cocktail list – with a couple of super-strong options ominously limited to two per customer, not that I’ve ever been declined a third – and a menu of burgers and other filthy eats that basically kickstarted London’s hipster junk food scene all those years ago.
This East Dulwich branch ticks all those boxes, but the tourist-free south-east London locale seems to have done it some favours. It’s easily the best and most consistent ML I’ve eaten in since the glory days of Hoxton’s church-themed MeatMission. Nothing’s a surprise, exactly, yet everything was basically faultless. A pile of Monkey Fingers (aka buffalo-slathered chicken fillet strips) was bounteous and juicy, the zesty heat of the sauce tempered with a cool blue-cheese dip. A side of Hot Mess – a bowl of hash browns drowning in more buffalo sauce and blue cheese, plus jalapenos and pickles – was shamelessly dirty (in a good way). Fried pickles, so often slimy and unctuous, were here crisply battered and greaseless, while deep-fried mac ’n’ cheese sticks oozed with molten cheese. I swerved the beefburgers for a Chilli Dog – it was good, with an excellently thick, chilli-slathered beef frank, but was also burdened with the hotdog curse of being an assemblage of decent bits that collapse in the hand – and followed that with the buffalo chicken burger. It’s Meat Liquor’s secret weapon: an insanely delicious tower of moist fried bird, sopping with yet more fiery buffalo sauce, and strung with red onion and sharp, creamy blue cheese. A triumph. Just like everything else, really. London’s got a more than crowded burger scene, but Meat Liquor continues to reign supreme. All hail.