Meateasy, above the Goldsmiths Tavern, 316 New Cross Road, London SE14

Meateasy is so trendy it hurts. But will our reviewer flip over its burgers?

Tim told me to go to Meateasy – everyone's talking about it, he said – but since he's much younger than me, I felt no compulsion to follow his advice. I am allergic to hype, which is why I haven't yet seen The King's Speech, bought Adele's new album or taken a holiday in Berlin.

Then there's the location of this pop-up wonder. It's New Cross – a part of London I can't really identify, never mind find. Is it east or south? Isn't it one of those places without a Tube station? I think I'll leave this one to the hipsters (sorry Tim). But then – and I'll be honest – a deadline looms that coincides with a lull in the frenzy of new London restaurant openings. So on a dismal night, I'm off across town to SE14.

Some background: Meateasy is the non-moving offshoot of Meatwagon, a wildly hip travelling burger bar, but with brilliant-quality produce and fun attitude. Yianni Papoutis runs the Meatwagon, but alas the van has been pinched – so a deal was struck with a closed-down pub in New Cross to use the upstairs as an unofficial restaurant till the developers moved in.

Twitter – another much-heralded thing that I stubbornly ignored for ages, but am now embracing – reveals with how much esteem Meateasy is held. "The only thing getting me through work today is the thought of #meateasy," tweets a fan. "My life isn't complete till I get to #meateasy," says another. Visitors are evangelical.

Naturally we baulk at the sight of a dingy, dark pub on the verge of two lanes of pelting cross-London traffic. There are NO signs of life. Look closer, and a chalkboard propped up on the pavement says, "Congratulations, you've found Meateasy." We enter a side door, through a scummy corridor and up some bare stairs, with only graffitied signs to show us. It feels like this could be a Saw movie, with the meat in the meateasy being us.

But swing open the heavy door and a hot, heaving, buzzy room reveals itself. The joint, as they say, is jumping. The walls are papered with paperback pages – I spot Fear and Loathing (of course). It's dimly lit, and mismatched tables, chair and sofas are spread higgledy-piggledy. There's a bar in one corner, and the only bright spot is a kitchen ablaze with light and activity. "Take a ticket," says our hostess. "When we call your number, you can come and order."

It all adds to the slightly underground feel – and when we're drinking out of jam jars and craning our necks to see the dishes scrawled on the wall, it definitely has the speakeasy vibe.

Of course, it's all about the meat. Philly cheesesteaks, burgers: cheese ones, bacon cheese ones – plus the eye-popping "dead hippie". This delight is two mustard-fried patties with lots of cheese and special sauce – I never do discover what they put in it, but I want another straight away. I hope it's not an addictive substance the hippie had in his pocket when he died...

We also try chilli cheese fries, mac and cheese, buffalo wings and onion rings. Almost everything has a mustardy tang that makes it moreish. The chicken is sticky and spicy, and they're generously fleshy wings. The mac and cheese is crusty on top, with a molten swamp of mature cheddar and Parmesan-enriched sauce. For £5, it's a meal in itself. The dead hippie (£7.50) is also a total bargain – the meat is coarse-ground and well-flavoured, with juices that muddle with the sauce and run down your wrists. Luckily there's a kitchen roll on every table. Almost everything is disposable – the cutlery, plates and tubs holding 'slaw.

The thrum of the crowd never lets up. Every table is taken and as soon as it's vacated, another group emerges from the darkness to take it. "This is as quiet as I've seen it," says the hostess, chirpily. Almost everyone is drinking lageritas – margaritas with a Meantime wheat beer top – which definitely has the effect of turning up the volume as the night progresses. At one point a waitress puts on a Mexican wrestler's mask. I think.

When we wearily stagger out, full to the brim with the very best of fast food, there are eager punters waiting to pounce on our table. If the landlords really do boot out the Meateasy crew in April, some other property owner should use their initiative. Mind you, with trade that brisk, a shiny new meatwagon could be on the cards. And, in the Twitter parlance, a hat-tip to Tim Walker.


Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

Meateasy, Above the Goldsmiths Tavern, 316 New Cross Road, London SE14, Open to 16 April, 6pm-11pm, Tues-Sat; cash only, no bookings. £40 for two, including drinks

More burger bliss


4 Jerome Place, Kingston-upon-Thames, tel: 020 8541 4757

This outlying branch of the high-end diner chain wins consistent praise for its spacious interior, super-helpful service and perfectly cooked, great-quality burgers


Dychurch Lane, Northampton, tel: 01604 620 300

A genuine offshoot of a New York diner of the same name, this amazing place lives up to all the stereotypes you might hope for, not least great burgers with an amazing range of toppings


30 Great Queen Street, London WC2, tel: 020 7831 4442

This 1970s Covent Garden stalwart is pretty much always reliable for US staples; service, though, can be dire

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2011'

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before