Update: As of 2017 MEATLiquor has now closed
Cor Blimey! American fast food has turned the dinner tables on the British invasion. By way of an absurd tradewind, that stomach-steeling category of Yankee bar nosh that enables hours of imbibing and also serves double duty as hangover salve has washed upon our shores by way of London. Yet, MEATliquor SINgapore 2015 could have been College 1998, except fake IDs are no longer required, the tattoos are a lot more outlandish, and the adult beverages far, far better.
There is nothing supremely new or revelatory here, which is actually an excellent reason to come: just a fat stack of burgers and fries that hold up well under mounds of toppings. And, perhaps to prove you’re not too old to carry on hours of socialising, lots of yelling over loud rock music and reverberating chatter. But your wiser self will appreciate that these burgers are not just grease piles; rather, they’re well crafted and thoughtfully constructed comfort chomps of meat that’s chopped daily. Together with varieties of wings and fried delights, and drinks made by real bartenders – even the irreverent slushies pay homage to bona fide classics – you’re in for an evening that won’t leave you ashamed or full of regrets.
This MEATliquor is founders Yianni Papoutsis and Scott Collins’s first foray outside of the UK, where the Sunday Times ranked them the fifth most influential food and drink figures in the country. Each outpost reflects its neighbourhood, and here within four Duxton Road shophouses, red neon, lyrics from salty sea shanties and street art in moody Technicolor splay across ceilings, walls and floors, reviving the area’s seedy port town revelry of a century ago while winking at its modern day revival. (If the cheeky and contemporary updates on famous paintings seem familiar, that’s because you’ve seen similar at Oxwell & Co. – the same group behind that gastropub is responsible for bringing MEATliquor here.)
In the same spirit, sambal wings and sambal fries have been devised to bring a local element to a solidly American food menu. The sauce is disappointing if you’re expecting home feels, but fine if you don’t quite think of sambal but instead a lightly spiced, sweet, piquant condiment.
The Dead Hippie burger is the marquee attraction, two French’s mustard-fried beef patties with cheese and its eponymous sauce. The soft buns tingling with butter and grease make a nice entrance into the loosely formed patties, barely held together by the melty cheese and a nice change from status quo hockey puck ones. There’s a lot more juice and flavour emanating from the mess in your hands this way, the better to smear all over your face – if your significant other finds you attractive like this, they’re a keeper.
The buffalo chicken burger doesn’t do as well – the beef renditions are a tough act to follow, so save that hot hot punch for the wings instead. Supplement with the onion rings on steroids – so big they’re the hearty eater’s 24-carat diamond ring – and fried pickles, and leave the rest to the destiny promised on the drinks list. The New Cross Negroni, St. Lawrence and Fallen Angelita come direct from the British MEATliquors, but Oxwell and Operation Dagger head bartender Luke Whearty has conjured up elixirs of GibSIN Martini, Duxton Fizz, Charrito Negro and Piña Colada native to this location. If you’re feeling particularly first class, a private map room features a captain’s table where you can log some miles with the liquor cabinet-within-a-globe. But staying away from the general din and clatter seems to detract from why you’re coming to MEATliquor.
That much of the food comes generously doused or latticed with French’s mustard (shelves lined with their spacey neon yellow bottles make no bones about this American crutch) feels like a cop-out, since it’s not something you can’t get easily at supermarkets. But let that slide with the fact that you can get a burger and a side for $25, and even vegetarians will barrel away full and sated. You’ll walk out with ears ringing, eyes glazed and fingers glistening, which means you’ll go home happy.
MEATliquor SINgapore, 99 Duxton Road, Singapore 089543, Tel: (+65) 6221 5343 or email [email protected].
Opening hours: Tue-Wed: 5pm-Midnight; Thu-Fri: 5pm-2am; Sat: 5pm-3am.
NB: There are NO reservations, and waiting queues (especially on weekends) can get long, but they do their best to keep waiting customers happy with water and (we hear) occasional nibbles. Best to hydrate in advance to stand up to those strong drinks, mama!