Sometimes it feels like Leeds is packed full – almost too full – of American style, barbecue/burger/grease joints. When we lived in the city centre, we weren’t exactly strangers to the likes of Red’s True BBQ, but there’s a limit to how much barbecued meat you can shovel down your throat whilst dealing with the slightly arrogant attitude of the staff there.
So, we were intrigued when we were invited down to MEATLiquor to sample their foodie offerings.
MEATLiquor is located on Bank Street and a short hop from Trinity. I’d been there before on a work night out and had enjoyed the private booth complete with pool table and dart board, but this visit was all about the food.
We had arrived with an appetite and, after spending a good half hour the night before perusing the menu (I know, it’s a bit sad!), a pretty good idea of what we wanted to eat.
The first thing we noticed was how friendly the staff were. We had our baby in her pram and, without any fussing, were taken straightaway to the lift to take us down to the basement, where the main bar and restaurant area is in the Leeds branch.
Later on, the DJ, who was doing some sort of soundcheck ahead of the no doubt busy Sunday service ahead, came over to our table to ask if he was being too loud for our little one. He wasn’t, but it was really nice of him to care.
We placed our order and waited for a couple of milkshakes to arrive. I had gone for the salted caramel milkshake, and Kyle had opted for the vanilla milkshake. The shakes were exceptional; creamy, thick, and not too sweet, they really hit the spot.
It didn’t take long for our food to arrive and we almost couldn’t believe how much food landed on our table when it did turn up! Food at MEATLiquor is served on American-style trays, with each item taking up its own little space on the tray. This encourages sharing if you’re the sharing-sort, or you can take your own bowl off the tray if you’re a bit more selfish (like me!).
The main event I’d gone for was the buffalo chicken burger, a deep fried chicken fillet smothered in hot pepper sauce, served with blue cheese sauce. Two things stood out for me: the moist, tender chicken, which really was melt in the mouth, and the delicious hot pepper sauce. It was, to coin a phrase, finger-lickin’ good! The chicken fillet was cut very thinly, which helped with the tender texture; there wasn’t a huge thick chicken breast to dry out in the cooking process.
On the side, I’d gone for some hippie fries, French fries drowned in MEATLiquor’s homemade ‘hippie’ sauce (which tasted a bit like mustard and a bit like pickles) and onions. The portion size here was HUGE and was clearly designed for sharing. That said, I made a valiant effort to plough my way through it and almost managed to finish the dish!
Kyle had gone for a charmingly named ‘Garbage Plate’, a plate piled high with fries, a burger, onions, cheese, shallots, and homemade gravy. It was slightly intimidating to look at (it was seriously huge!) but Kyle tucked in and made a huge dent in the portion size pretty quickly, always a good sign!
On the side, we had some fried pickles – these are a must-try if you do head to MEATLiquor – and some coleslaw. We didn’t manage to eat much of the coleslaw due to overeating on our mains, but it was nice nonetheless!
Clearly we were very impressed by MEATLiquor, even if we couldn’t eat for the rest of the day. For us, there are a couple of things that set MEATLiquor apart from the other barbecue joints in Leeds and in the process avoid the sort of overdone American gimmicky restaurant style it’s so easy to grow sick of.
Firstly, the service. At the likes of Red’s, you can be made to feel like you don’t really belong, or the staff are doing you a favour by letting you order food! This wasn’t the case here; everyone was really friendly and, although the atmosphere in the basement area at MEATLiquor is oozing cool, we weren’t made to feel out of place.
Secondly, the quality of the food really did shine. A lot has been said in this blog about big portion sizes, but actually the chicken burger was sensibly sized and probably the best thing on the tray. This was American food cooked and prepared with real thought and care, rather than a giant beast of a burger shoved into a doughnut bun with the intention to shock rather than delight (yes, Red’s, we’re talking about you again!).
If you need an American fix and you’re in town, do head to MEATLiquor, but make sure you take your appetite A-game with you! Oh, and if brunch is more your thing, just a quick note that MEATLiquor do a burger, coffee, and a cocktail for just £15.
Categories: Restaurant reviews