Big, bold and brash, Meat Liquor has crash landed with a bang on Stokes Croft. But they’ve come in disguise, every inch of wall covered in graffiti as if they’ve rounded up all the local taggers and let them loose.
Bristol artist Inkie may have recently complained about a piece of Dr Marten’s-commissioned street art further down Stokes Croft, but he has been signed up by Meat Liquor to provide the urban edge here – an urban edge protected by thick metal shutters at closing time.
The red illuminated signs outside can be seen from halfway down Jamaica Street and – if its London cousins are anything to go by – so could the queue for one of the most hotly-anticipated openings in Bristol for some years.
What started as a street food van flipping burgers has morphed into a growing national and international chain. They have branches across London and have advanced south to Brighton, north to Leeds and internationally to Singapore. They’ve even got their own radio station, Meat Transmission.
A nod to Bristol sensibilities sees half a dozen veggie options including a halloumi and mushroom burger (£7.50) and ‘satan fingers’ (£7.50), battered mock-chicken (wheat gluten seitan) covered in chilli sauce.
The clue to the specialities here, however, are in the name.
Think Grillstock but not quite as good; Chomp but not quite as cultured – that pair still the city’s gold standard for meaty goodness. A bacon cheeseburger (£8.50) held its form together particularly well, the patty pink, the buns bouncy.
On the other side of the table, a chilli hot dog is being sliced in half due to its sheer, overwhelming meatinesss, overflowing with beef chilli, stringy cheese and jalapenos – all as a dainty garnish to the massive pork frankfurter inside.
We stayed clear this time of the garbage plate (£9.50), a mountain of fries topped with a burger patty, cheese, shallots and more, giving our arteries a rest with a refreshing Greek salad – said to be a recipe from the aunt of Greek-born Meat Liquor founder Yianni Papoutsis.
The deep-fried pickles and blue cheese dip (£3.50) were sensational, and if that wasn’t enough pickle for one night a pickleback (£7.50) was enjoyed after the food – sharp pickle juice following a shot of Bulleit bourbon.
Among more of the liquor, there is beer from Somerset’s Wild Beer and cider from Westons in the form of Caple Road, both served in 330ml cans. Cocktails from £7.50 include the Bristol Fizz (Ketel One vodka shaken with pear, fresh lemon juice and strawberry topped with fizz) and there is even a Jagermeister milkshake.
Love it or loath it, there’s a new kid on the block. It will be intriguing to find out how the burghers of Stokes Croft react to this cocky young interloper in their midst.
Meat Liquor, 77-79 Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3RD
Photos by Meena Alexander