Where: #MEATEASY, New Cross How much: £12.50 a head, burgers are between £6 and £7.50 Come here: if you want a proper burger, and you're not allergic to grotty student pubs in New Cross.
If you're a food blogger, skip the next couple of paras. You know why I spent several hours on a Friday night queuing at a glorified short order grill plate above the least attractive pub in New Cross. If you're not, read on.
Imagine a man, a visionary man, who travelled the world seeking that holy Grail of Western working class food, the perfect burger. Well he exists, and on returning from his meaty pilgrimage, bought a burger van and proceeded to churn out meat patties the like of which the world of excitable food bloggerdom had never before seen. Fast forward a year or so, and the Meatwagon has been plying its business round the pub beer gardens of (mainly South) London. The meateligentia flocked to worship at the altar of the perfect chilli burger and God's own post pub bite, the Philly cheesesteak. Word of mouth and twitter hype ensure the queues stretch round the garden (and down the road), all appears rosy. The fall came in late 2010 when some scrote stole the Meatwagon, forcibly ending that chapter. News then that the Capital Pub Company had found a space for the master to carry on his work came as welcome news, particularly to me, as I'd never been lucky enough to sample his wares. I took with me the equally visionary Nico Polo, now returned from his Russian trek, both of us keen to sample the hype. I wasn't joking about the pub, this is as resolutely ungentrified as they get. The entrance to #Meateasy is round the side, up a fire escape and over a roof walkway. Grab a raffle ticket as you arrive, and wait to be called out by the megaphone touting staff. Food arrives on paper plates, rolls of kitchen paper wait to wipe your greasy chops, it's as perfunctory as you get. You get three items per raffle ticket (a sensible system to limit tactical group buying) and I'd advise that you use them wisely.
We went for two to share, with a selection of sides. a Dead Hippy, their take on the In-N-Out secret menu, 'animal style' burger. Two thick and ill-formed patties (the more irregular the patty, the better the char and the fuller the flavour) come mustard fried and served in a soft white bun, sufficient only to soak up the sweet meat juices mingling with the special thousand island style sauce. A taste of fatty heaven. The chili cheeseburger packed a punch, with peppery green fellas instead of the expected con carne sauce. The only disappointment came with the sides. With the exception of some excellent and fresh onion rings, the others were standard, salty (even the 'slaw randomly) and to be honest, felt like they'd been too long under the heat lamp, this was particularly true of the Buffalo Wings, if anything, they felt like they'd been dumped back into the frier for a second go. I'd advise saving your precious choices for another burger, or one of the divine Philly Cheesesteak rolls.