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Restaurant Review: The Meatwagon in Peckham

The above picture was taken outside a warehouse in an industrial estate in Peckham on a freezing Thursday night. You can’t quite see it due to the glow of the fluorescent lamps but Jen is smiling. One might ask why anyone would be smiling in such a situation? The reason is simple; she is halfway through eating a burger by the Meatwagon at one of their occasional “meatings”.

Before I continue with this review I have to admit I am completely and utterly biased in favour of the Meatwagon. Any restaurant or food event which involves random locations, post industrial scenarios and secret get togethers is, for me, absolutely perfect. I have been tempted to go to Los Angeles for a long time just to try out Kogi, a Korean Mexican taco truck, for the same reason.

So to the food, Jen’s burger was good. She had a chilli burger and it came spicy and sloppy with all the toppings and medium rare in the middle. The three friends who we dragged to the depths of Peckham with us also had similarly good burgers. It was only mine which disappointed as it was a bit over squashed, a bit under seasoned and a lot overdone. It did give me an excuse to eat half of Jen’s though.

Intermittent production line quality aside I would definitely recommend the burgers which are in the same league as Byron Hamburger (review here) or a bit better. It wasn’t quite in the same league as the burgers I eat (very regularly) at Hawksmoor or Goodman. But, it is half the price at £6.50 (and you get to go to Peckham). Where the Meatwagon (and I feel Goodman) can’t compete with Hawksmoor is that the burger tasted like it was made out of one cut of meat. The Hawksmoor burger has a greater variety of flavours which run darkly through it as they throw a few different cuts in the grinder and top it off with some bone marrow.

Still, there was one area where the Meatwagon stood out and this was its craptastic American cheese. It reminded me of the Shake Shack in NY and the dirty joy of burgers there.

However, this meat story doesn’t end here. For meat puddings we had a Philly Cheesesteak. It was the best one I have ever had in this country. It was the only one I have ever had in this country. Even if it hadn’t been it would have still have been the best for the simple reason of the cheese. The Philly Cheesesteak was street food perfection. Thinly grilled steak, green peppers and liquid craptastic American cheese smeared around the bun. And apparently Yianni, the owner of the Meatwagon, is the only person in London who can get such terrible cheese.

Price – £15 for a burger and Philly Cheesesteak which is far too much food for anyone sensible

PS a massive thanks to Simon Doggett (here) for tipping me about the Meatwagon.

16 Comments

  1. London Chow

    Nice one, Tom! I assume MeatWagon isn't a pop up eatery, is it?

  2. Mr Noodles

    I love the concept of a philly cheesesteak dessert!

  3. Lizzie

    I am SO gutted I didn't go to this, especially as I live just down the road. To think I chose a haircut instead! Sob.

  4. Simon

    Great writeup Tom, I need to get back to Hawksmoor quick-sharp. For the sake of comparison, obviously.

  5. Alexandra

    Great post! I took the pilgrimage down to Peckham last Thursday as well, and agree with everything you wrote (it's rare for me to agree on the subject of burgers…)
    Anyway, you're spot on with the cut of beef, I asked Yianni and he said it's 100% chuck, with only 15% fat content which might be another factor that leads to an unfavourable comparison with Hawksmoor's… He said that having lower fat enables it to be served rare or medium rare, but I'm not really convinced by that argument!

  6. Tom

    London Chow – I think he normally caters and in his off time does this. If you follow him on twitter – @themeatwagonuk – you can find out where and when he next appears.

    Mr Noodles – Hawksmoor are (if I remember and I was a couple of martinis in) putting a beef stock into one of their bloody marys now…

    Lizzie – you definitely should be gutted! However, I think he is doing some more soon so you can go with your new haircut : )

    Simon – I agree. I am meant to be going this Friday just to make absolutely sure…

  7. Tom

    Alexandra – it was interesting that the place was full of eager food lovers and the warehouse party behind us didn't really seem to be kicking off.

    Considering that Yianni can't order in bulk or build up relationships with suppliers in the same way as Hawksmoor or Goodmans it is pretty impressive what he turns out.

  8. The Grubworm

    So, and just so I've got this straight, you can have cow for starter, for your main and then again for dessert? And if you went to Hawksmoor you could have it in a cocktail as well? Marvelous.

    Now all they need to do is to offer a chicken-fried steak and we'd be off in a stateside hog (well cow) heaven.

  9. Siany

    "Meat puddings" is my favourite new phrase.

  10. Tom

    The Meatwagon has just posted on twitter that they are open for business in Peckham this Friday… If you work anywhere near London Bridge it is only about 12 mins by train…

    Grubworm – I remain unconvinced by meat cocktails but still it is way to get your quota for the year…

    Siany – I shall put it on a business card

  11. London Chow

    Thanks for the twitter lead. Will do.

  12. Helen

    I am loving how everyone is loving The Meatwagon. I couldn't believe it when a reader tipped me off to it last summer. In the middle of a trading estate in Peckham, my manor?! I was down there like a flash and haven't looked back. I only wish he was around more often. Then again, I like the thrill of the chase.

  13. Tom

    Helen – I think it shows how ready people are to try something new in London. I would say that despite some notable exceptions (and there aren't many) our street food "scene" sucks. I don't know whether it is due to red tape, the loss of a "London" food culture or something else but we have a long way to go.

    I would say that whilst I did really enjoy my Meatwagon burger I hope people who haven't been yet realise that there is a bit of blog inflation going on. Whilst you get an adventure with a Meatwagon burger it doesn't quite live up to Hawksmoor (maybe yet…). It is half the price though.

    I am delving through your Peckham supermarket review now!

  14. Anonymous

    Tom, i did enjoy my meatwagon burger, but have you tried jerk chicken or jerk lamb from smokey jerkey? Its in 158 new cross road, you would love it. Do a review for them, the food is great

  15. Tom

    I haven't but I am damn partial to jerk chicken (and I have never had jerk lamb I don't think).

    I am adding that one to my to do list right now as sounds great and will hopefully be heading to New Cross next week when back in London

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