As a child growing up in deepest darkest Ohio there's probably two foods that define my childhood more than any other - funnel cakes and corn dogs. Both sold almost exclusively at Sea World or Six flags - i.e. the best places in the world. This means that they felt incredibly special and were always eaten on the some of the most enjoyable days of each year. They're also completely ignored outside of the culinary haven that is the Mid-West, so when I discovered that MeatMarket (aka the new MeatLiquor) was serving corn dogs the only thing that could have made me happier was if funnel cakes miraculously appeared on the menu too.
I had devoted a lot of effort to the opening of MeatMarket, scoping out the space twice before it had officially opened to find out when it did open, and actually running there on its first Friday of serving. You can only imagine my disappointment, when I turned up (hot, sweaty, starving) to find out that corn dogs had randomly been removed from that nights menu and would be from all future nights. There were almost tears. Luckily what it lacks in corn dogs it makes up in other hot dogs and so I settled for a "ripper", the criff dog inspired hot dog involving a bacon wrapped deep fried dog, smothered in onions, mustard and a mayo like substance. It was the best hot dog ever. Move over Big Apple at Mishkin's - this dog is leader of the pack. The bacon provided a second casing meaning the initial bite gave a satisfying bite, giving way to high quality frankfurter. The roll was not too exciting, which was good, anything exciting might have taken away from the star. My one criticism was that I wish there hadn't been mustard added but next time (and there will be a next time), I'll ask for it without.
Other things were less exciting. "Poppers", which I'd heard great things about - were too spicy for me and my companions taste buds. Only one out of our group of eight could enjoy the things without following each bite with several slurps of diet coke. Fries, McDonald's quality, but a bit too salt heavy. The Philly Steak, served in a hot dog roll, however, was devoured by two of the males in the group, and was generally well received.
In many ways I much prefer this place to the original venue. MeatLiquor I found a tad too contrived. This version is a takeout joint, involving about 30 or so seats, and a order and then wait for your name to be called out system - cutting down on the queue problem which haunts the original and has put me off many return visits. The decor feels much more authentic, this is not an emo teenagers bedroom - pitch black with fake blood on the walls, nope this feels like an outpost of Five Guys Burger and Fries.
Authentic doesn't mean upmarket, and upmarket this place isn't. Its in the dodgy back end of Jubilee Hall, you know that bit of Covent Garden most people don't really go to. The restaurant is a strip mezzanine overlooking the hall with an open air kitchen on one side. Sadly there's no separation between the restaurant and the market, making it open to air and noise from the market. Around 7ish, the market packs up leading to a soundtrack of a lot of clanging. Its pretty damn atmosphere less and worse, very, very cold. With this theme they've compromised on some other things. Cutlery is plastic, and would be improved by switching to metal, as I don't think eating with a flimsy plastic knife and fork is enjoyable for any one. The cocktails that make MeatLiquor a truly fun night out have also disappeared, only to be replaced with alcoholic slush puppies. The bill was on par with the original, the hot dog was around seven pounds, with the burgers similarly priced. There is probably no where better to eat this type of food in London and its a welcome addition to Covent Garden, its not perfect, and it certainly won't be when its the dead of winter but its taken one step closer to making Covent Garden a really great place to eat.
Obviously I went back the next day, today, for lunch to test out their burgers and whether my arteries can stand two visits within 16 hours (Yes, they can). The Dubble Bubble burger was as easily the best I've had since MeatLiquor. Buns are perfectly squidgy, the whole thing is every so lightly steamed before serving. The meat beautifully pink, ignoring any stupid advice you'll find at other places, about only serving burgers well done. The only complaint is that the cheese and pickle ration is just off, there needs to be more cheese, to balance the acidity. Otherwise faultless. The Boyfriend claimed it wasn't as good as the original, but couldn't explain why. If there is a difference, the lack of queue at this place more than makes up for it.
I'm considering going again for dinner.