I normally stick to IT stuff on this blog .... but nice to have a change now and then.
I first heard about The Meat Wagon on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00shfqt, and have been following their web site at http://www.themeatwagon.co.uk/ ever since. They had a principle of just turning up in a London pub car park with very little notice so my chances of being nearby to enjoy the feast described here (http://www.handtomouthblog.com/when-hand-to-mouth-met-the-meatwagon) were slim.
Just before Christmas they suffered the theft of The Meatwagon itself, and located a temporary permanent location in New Cross called the #MEATEASY, http://www.themeatwagon.co.uk/?p=491, directly opposite The Venue where I remember stomping along to Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, rather a long time ago in my college days.
With only a few weeks left to run in the venue, I just had to head over for my chance to taste allegedly some of the most authentic burgers and Philly Cheesesteak sandwich in the UK. I roped in a fellow foodie, Toby, to join the fun.
The New Cross venue is upstairs at the Goldsmiths Tavern, which is currently being renovated to reopen in April. You walk through a side door, up a bare staircase with walls coated in fresh plaster and then enter a room with awesome levels of noise and energy. It was absolutely rammed, and mostly with people about ten years younger than Toby and myself. Fortunately no old fart filtering on the door.
A couple of raffle tickets gave us our place in the queue for ordering, you can only order when your number gets called out and they won’t give you more tickets than the number of people present. So if your friends are late, tough, and that helped us as another group swapped tickets, elevating us from 142/143 to 98/99, which meant food about 30 minutes earlier than expected.
Waiting for ordering was no chore, they serve very nice Meantime beers; the London Pale Ale and Union Amber Lager are very fine beers. I was very impressed by the Union Amber Lager, a lager that really tastes of something. It also gave us time to work out what we would order, a list which kept getting longer and longer as we gazed at the chalkboard menu.
In the end we had a two Dead Hippy Burgers, a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, Mac and Cheese, Onion Rings, Chilli Cheese Fries and Buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce.
The Dead Hippy Burger was described as a ‘Big Mac on steroids’ and it fulfilled the billing wonderfully. A burger sliced in half, mustard inserted in the middle and then put back on the griddle, dressed with cheese and smothered in their own burger relish in a fantastic bun. Soft and oozing, the only thing that could have made it better was a rasher of bacon.
The Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich was the star of the show for me, and I’m glad that as a first timer, I was given such a superb example of this delicacy. Chopped steak, soft peppers, and melted cheese overflowing the soft hot dog roll. The chilli cheese fries were an excellent companion with a good pickled chilli vinegar kick which I hadn’t expected, but which created a perfect balance.
The onion rings were crispy and light and Toby rated the Mac and Cheese (not my favourite item, school dinners to blame here). The only disappointing item was the buffalo wings, which had a very thin sauce which didn’t really give the spicy kick that I would have expected. The blue cheese sauce helped but had too much work to do to lift them out of being, well, ordinary.
This was definitely one of the best foodie experiences I’ve had for a long time, and a fantastic contrast to the standard restaurant or pub grub. A buzzing atmosphere, fine beers and the best Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich are only available for another two weeks (until April 16th) so my advice is to get there now before it ends.