Food review: Meat Shack, Birmingham
Everyone loves a flame-grilled burger and if you’re after one with all the trimmings then Meat Shack is the place. Simon Hill pays a visit . . .
The Meat Shack is one of a number of bricks and mortar premises to spring up on the back of the success of Birmingham’s street food scene.
Like fellow street food veterans, Original Patty Men, which also opened a restaurant in recent years, The Meat Shack specialises in gourmet burgers or as they describe it ‘dripping, filthy goodness’ and craft beers.
It’s a great location for a fill before visiting the many entertainment venues near by, such as Birmingham Hippodrome, The Sunflower Lounge or like us, Birmingham’s O2 Academy. My wife, a couple of friends and I gave The Meat Shack a go on a Thursday evening before a gig.
Ideal for us as they open on Thursdays from 5-10pm, but if you have a weekday gig you might not be so lucky as other than Thursday, they’re only open Friday-Saturday from noon-10pm and Sunday 1pm until they run out.
Situated by the side entrance of the Hippodrome, it’s also a stone’s throw away from New Street’s Grand Central, so easy if you fancy leaving the car at home for a few jars to accompany your meal.
We arrived to find the place busy, but able to seat us without delay.
I’m not sure we would have been so lucky on a weekend and unfortunately, they don’t take reservations so you may have a wait, but . . . it’s worth the wait.
The space has a relaxed, ‘hipster’ feel to it with street art adorning the walls and staff have a friendly, informal approach. It has a slight pop-up feel at first look, perhaps temporary, with what seems like some of the building’s previous (maybe original?) features still there, such as the ornate coving and period wood panelling. However, with this is a mix of metal corrugated sheets and rustic wood, it looks like Meat Shack has taken over. There’s doodle-style artwork on the walls and large letters painted on a brick wall reading ‘meet & eat burgers’. Thank you, we shall.
As you enter, there are quite a few more casual stools and benches and taller tables, maybe seating around 25, with a seated restaurant area down a few steps, seating a further 50 diners.
The seats are a mixture of rustic benches and ‘old school’ chairs.
The menu is simple, featuring about six different burgers as well as a changing special and a few varieties of fries, as well as a couple of different sides. The menu’s simplicity is its strength though. They know what they do well and they stick to it.
We ordered a couple of the local craft beers to kick things off: The Birmingham Brewing Pale Brummie, a citrus pale ale and the Sadlers Dakota, an American style IPA both went down nicely and are great adverts for a local craft beer scene going from strength to strength. At almost £5 a pint, these beers are not cheap but are what you would expect to pay for a local craft beer in a city centre restaurant.
There are also a few ciders – on tap and in cans – a range of soft drinks, and four or five bottles of wine on the menu.
There are no starters so we wasted no time in ordering our burgers and the food was with us in 20 minutes.
Between us, we had the Mr C, the RnB and the Rozio – which was the special of the day.
The Mr C is the classic cheeseburger with salad, oozy American cheese and their signature Shack sauce. The aged beef patty, as with all the burgers, was well cooked, perfectly juicy, and beautifully sandwiched in a soft brioche bun.
The Rozio had a Latin feel with the addition of chimichurri sauce and chorizo, but the pick of the burgers was the RnB which added red Leicester cheese, Dutch cheese, Stornoway black pudding, candy bacon crumb and Gochujang mayo to the same aged beef patty and brioche bun. The result was a delightful mix of flavours and textures that really hit the spot. Bags of flavour from the mixture of beef and black pudding with a slight chew from the bacon.
This hasn’t always been on the Meat Shack menu, but I certainly hope it’s here to stay. We also ordered some sides to accompany our burgers; some chipayo fries, some frickles and a portion of halloumi fries.
The chipayo fries are seasoned skin on fries covered in a sweet, smooth, chipotle mayo sauce. The chipayo sauce adds a nice kick of flavour to fries that would otherwise not be worthy of getting too excited about.
The halloumi fries however, were a different matter entirely. Again ordered from the specials board, they were crispy and full of flavour. The chunky cheesy fries were covered in Japanese seven spice seasoning, Gochujang mayo, sesame seeds and spring onion; they really were something special.
An excellent alternative to the usual potato fries that would ordinarily accompany a burger. My only criticism was that for £5.50 it was quite a small portion. Although, this would not stop me ordering them again.
Along with these came the frickles, sliced pickles in a cider batter and deep fried. These had a great, thick crunchy coating, but soft and not over-cooked on the inside. Delicious, but you know they are bad for you. This came with a blue cheese dipping sauce. A sour cream sort of flavour, with a hum of blue cheese, it wasn’t too overpowering.
I had seen a sauce on the Hell Shack burger, (the hot one with green chilli relish) called The Rib Man Holy F#*k Sauce, which intrigued me, so I asked, when I ordered if I could sample some. It was no problem for the waitress and it was with the food when it came out, but I did notice they had charged £1 for the pleasure, and for quite a small pot. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded if I had been told beforehand.
Everything’s served on metal canteen trays, with the fries and sides in American-style chip baskets. Like the restaurant, mixing American classics, but born and bred in Brum. All in all a good meal. Burgers, beers and live music afterwards . . . and on a school night, what more can you want. As their strap line says: ‘Burger Heaven awaits you’, maybe you need to get down to the Meat Shack.