Hip on hip on hip—it doesn't get much more hip than this. Brighton's stylish Meat Liquor is clearly an homage to something lost and long gone: it has the feel of a 60's diner on steroids, revamped with modern day art. Everything from Lichtenstein to Andy Warhol prints to Illuminati-esque collages line the walls, with giant fluorescent signs assailing you next to chain link fences and seats ripped out of a drive-in movie. It's funky and great, undoubtedly one of the most atmospheric places I've ever been, except this time Arthur and I are joined by another couple, the gorgeous Shayna and Michael escorting us.
Per the eponymous name, Meat Liquor promises two things: meat (hot dogs and burgers) and cocktails, and I sure hope it intends to deliver. It's menu is short on the food and long on the liquor, which I don't mind one bit seeing as it includes goodies like deep fried pickles (!!!) and chili cheese fries.
(It's also worth mentioning they have a Triple Chili challenge, which, to my memory, is to eat chili cheese fries, a chili dog and burger all under 10 minutes. I'm told via the internet that this amounts to 3,420 calories...happy eating y'all)
Preparing myself for the inevitable looming heart failure, Arthur and I decided to start with drinks. Arthur's watching me closely as I eye the knockout drinks dubbed the "Game Over" and Zombie, each which seemed to be an early death wish for anyone who would choose to drink them, with the "Game Over" containing at least 5 different kinds of liquor. Sullenly, I choose some sort of orange ruby red concoction while Arthur drinks something he keeps referring to as "tea". His drink is tangy, light, almost like gin with lime, while mine tastes muddled; Shayna's is also equally tangy and Michael's, the Pink Flamingo, nearly gives me diabetes with one sip. Well then.
For burgers Arthur and I opt to split a red chili cheese burger (promising chili, jalapenos and cheddar cheese) along with a "dead hippie" burger and cheese fries. Shayna's first visit to Meat Liquor revealed to me they had amazing chicken burgers but goddamnit all, I'm here for some real meat—just give me that beef. Michael, in the meanwhile, orders his bacon cheeseburger with complete glee, looking like Charlie Bucket outside Willy Wonka's factory with his golden ticket. Each burger is around 8 pounds, and I've had a few good ones in my day, so I await my food eagerly, hovering on the edge of my seat and watching an endless array of soon-to-be club goers saunter in wearing 6 inch heels.
Finally the food arrives and I swell with joy like a balloon. It's all served on one giant tray, a gesture of goodwill that finally succeeds this time as we all hastily divvy up the meal. Diving in, I find that the "dead hippie" reminds me extraordinarily of an In-N-Out burger: it's a basic meat patty (x2) with thousand island and chopped onions. This makes my heart soar like an eagle as I have missed In-N-Out burgers so much I can't quite hope to convey the feeling with words; in short, perhaps something akin to the desperation of a crack addict looking for a fix.
This, my friends, is my level of commitment to my burgers.
The cheese fries are great, too, except I can't help but wonder if everything needs just a tiny pinch more salt. Meanwhile I'm digging into the chili burger and it, too, is excellent, boasting that buttery brioche bun with perfectly tender, medium rare patties swathed in chili, jalapeno and the UK elusive cheddar cheese. It's hot but not overwhelming as I feared and works fabulously against the chopped onions on the fries. I purr with contentment, pleased with my choice yet somewhat defeated at the size of the burgers—for 8 pounds a burger I expect, well, something a bit more filling if you catch my drift. Michael's bacon cheeseburger, too, resonated with the men who grunted with approval as the meal went on in total silence, everyone munching away furiously.
Dessert time rolls around and I'm hit with a heavy blow: there's only one dessert on the menu, a peanut butter sundae. Now I know Arthur loves peanut butter anything with a passion that's nearly inappropriate and he's salivating with unusual fervor, but one dessert option? Root beer floats don't count, damnit, yet I sigh and wolf down my sundae anyways.
It's been one hell of a romantic double date as I saunter out with my belt uncomfortably tight, walking out into the hot night air and staring back longingly into the den I'll forever remember as 'the place of epic burger and drink time with awesome late 90's hip hop'. Sadness prevails.
Someone get me a burger, stat.