I had tasted a meatwagon cheeseburger twice before my visit to the #meateasy, I thought each time it was the most satisfying, brilliant, sloppy, hot, salty, peppery, greasy, burger I have ever eaten, a triumph.
One other factor that had fascinated me about the meatwagon was it's almost cult like status.....at the 'towpath' festival in Islington on a freezing day last year I witnessed trendy young things bopping and slopping with burgers and beer by a big army tank, with a DJ of a driver, firing pumping tunes not bullets from the top. This gathering was prompted by in all probability a lone tweet the day before. There were other great street food stalls that day but the real draw was the meatwagon. When Yianni and the truck ventured south west to the @shipwandsworth burgers were sold out in a matter of a couple of hours, one sensed a phenomenon.
It was therefore with sadness and disbelief I greeted the news of the dastardly theft of the meatwagon. The thought of some dirty rotten scoundrels depriving us Londoners of the joy of some proper burger, street-food joy was almost too much to bare.
Thankfully you cannot keep good people down; Yianni, the creator of the meatwagon, and Scott, the man responsible for hosting many meatwagon evenings in conjunction with his pubs, got their heads together and came up with the idea of a #meateasy.
SE14 was to be the lucky postcode, a space above a rather decrepid pub,the goldsmiths tavern was to be the venue.
The tweeting then began, '#meateasy' plastered all over the twitter universe from noon till night day after day creating an almost insatiable desire to get down there and experience it for myself. The opportunity arose the other week to make the sortie to deepest south east London in the esteemed company of @mcmoop and @drapersarms and it was some experience.
The first thought that went through my mind as we marched around the back of the goldsmiths following the chalkboard signage was, god this is clever. Up the stairs, straight ahead a door, with the words written, 'You've made it, well done, not this door, that one' with an arrow pointing left. Pushing the correct door open we walked into another world, it could have been a scene from, 'from dusk till dawn', dark, frantic and cool, country western music bellowing out, yehaaaaa! there was an underground feel, you felt you have arrived somewhere special.
To the right of the room a cocktail bar, trendy guys, some in pork pie hats, shaking trendy cocktails and dispensing in jam jars. After one or two of these great cocktails you are certainly in the mood and whatever wait there is, like the meatwagon everything is grilled to order, time becomes you friend not enemy.
The chalkboard menu unerringly tantalises your burger cravings until your time comes. There are more options than the wagon, we ordered a selection of the best bits; philly cheese steak, chilli cheese fries, chilli burger, dead hippy(a take on a big mac/in-n-out double), bacon cheeseburger, slaw, chilli cheese dog, mac & cheese...ooof....then.....our moment arrived;
Paper plate, after paper plate descended on our table with a couple of rolls of giant paper roll to mop up. Silence prevailed....... everything was so fresh, hot and damn good. We began frantically slicing the assortment of burgers and dogs in half so we could all try everything (apart from the dead hippy, that disappeared in seconds flat, @mcmoop saw to that). Growls of satisfaction ensued.
To experience the brilliant heart of the #meateasy for me the classic cheeseburger takes some beating, you get the taste of the loosely ground well aged, super seasoned beef so well, but I adored the spicy chilli burger and the heavenly chilli dog, a beefy smokey beast of a sausage smothered in a great meaty, punchy chilli and cheese. In fact it was all memorable.
There are many good 'posh' burgers to be tried across London town but there are virtually no great proper high grade and well made 'junk food' style burgers to be had anywhere bar this place. Or at least to my knowledge that is. Couple that with an eclectic, electric atmosphere, you could call it something of a sensation.
The meateasy is something new, fresh and brilliant. Surely eight weeks above the goldmiths tavern in se14 is just the start of it's life.
burger heaven, five out of five stars.
www.themeatwagon.co.uk for details