I think even the biggest food snobs amongst us would all agree, secretly or otherwise, that there are few things in life better than a burger and chips. We’re all human after all. But if one thing is better than a burger and chips, it’s an outstanding burger and chips crafted with carefully chosen local ingredients and washed down with a crisp and refreshing craft beer. And that’s precisely what we set out to indulge in by visiting Meatcure as the Cool As Leicester team set out to uncover the best burger in the county.
Meatcure has been open in Market Harborough since the back end of 2014, occupying the space opposite the Mercado Lounge in the plaza fronting the Travelodge on Abbey Street. The company has evolved from a small enterprise working the festival circuits across the country to finally an exciting yet rustic and modest restaurant serving a small yet eyebrow raising menu of burgers and craft beers. One might be forgiven for dismissing them as just another restaurant riding the crest of the tidal wave that is the recent fashion for all meaty things things to be gourmet and pulled, but the management are keen to point out that they are more than just followers of fashion. This is their claim:
“Meatcure is an obsession in the spirit of new york burger joints. We’ve principally taken simple street food and made it good. We source prime cuts from grass-fed cattle to make our patties, sandwich them between our own recipe daily baked brioche and smother them with proper and well selected toppings.
We serve good craft beers with camden hells and pale on draft. Our wine has been hand picked, is affordable and most importantly extremely drinkable. All this in an environment that’s interesting and just pretty easy going with an epic soundtrack. We believe in up-cycling or at least making what we can ourselves.
Brunch is done properly sourcing local produce and our coffee is our own roasted single origins blend. We do shakes and sundaes the old 1950’s diner kind of way. As for the kids we dont do that any differently. We simply take a patty, break it in half, press and cook. We’ve even had our baker make kids brioche too. We also do pork beechwood franks and fresh chicken breast dippers in our house southern style rub too.
In all we’re about being at the heart of the community, the ‘go-to’ place for when everything and everyone else just seems to uniformed, rigid and set in their ways. Its about family, your family joing our family!”
It’s a bold, yet mouth watering vision! We needed to check this out.
And so we headed to Meatcure on a sleepy Sunday, far more excited than I ever was at being promised a Happy Meal as a child. We were met with an infectiously enthusiastic and welcoming team of staff who were to make our stay a most comfortable one. The surroundings are based on an American classic school canteen feel, making for an unassuming yet smart appearance when seated.
After being given our menus and pointed in the direction of the four specials boards scattered around (perhaps centralising these would help, but the intricacies of each burger creation probably deserves a board of their own!) we ordered a From Dusk til Dawn, packed with house chilli, and the intriguing Gruffalo special, designed by a local 7 year old competition winner in a challenge set by the restaurant over half term. Whilst the menu stated that the Gruffalo patty would be served with streaky fox, scrambled snake, purple prickles and wart sauce, it did ultimately look and taste remarkably similar to a beef patty topped with bacon, zucchini, grated crispy sweet potato and guacamole. We chose to complement our meals with onion rings and ‘debris’ for dunking, and to wash everything down with a couple of pints of Camden Pale Ale. The pale ale, available on draught along with its sister beer Hells, is already well known and well regarded around London with a wonderful crisp and sweet hoppy flavour and we are reliable informed that this is the furthest north you can currently buy it in any establishment in the country. There are also several carefully selected bottled craft beers available, included a not-for-the-faint-hearted chilli beer.
The burgers arrived in a deep tin, served with traditional thin and crispy home made fries; The burgers leading us to ponder quite what tactic would need to be deployed to eat them without necessitating a dislocated jaw. The onion rings arrived appearing colossal in size and volume with a light beer batter and a pot of blue cheese sauce for dunking, followed by the debris, a rich, meaty smelling gravy housing chunks of slow cooked beef making for a meaty explosion of flavour.
As promised, all toppings were fresh and clearly prepared on site. The sweetness of the bun working perfectly as a burger bun, but the star of the show is the patty itself, as it should be for any burger restaurant worth its salt. Whilst both toppings we plumped for were superb and the result of a real creative mind on the menus and a talented chef in the kitchen, neither detracted from the real concentrated flavour of the fresh, locally sourced lump of beef that was the centre piece of the burger. It comes served on the pink side by default, a luxury not afforded to you with a mass produced pre-formed burger you might buy from most other restaurants. You can ask for it to be cooked more well-done, but then why would you…?
The staff’s friendliness also extended to offering us their chilli sauce made on site that they described as “really hot, so do be careful”. Never one to shirk a challenge, this needed to be tested. It was. Hooray for the beer.
Of course, this is an American style burger hut. No visit to one of these would be complete without a milkshake. In the interests of completion, I ordered a peanut butter milkshake. This was served in an old style milk bottle and did not disappoint in taste. We could also have rounded off the meal with a sundae or a soda float, but by this point we were well and truly stuffed, and this was never intended to be a Man vs Food review!
Verdict: A resounding thumbs up! Meatcure is a new chain with restaurants in Leicester and Leamington Spa in the pipeline. You can only hope that growth does not detract anything from the attention to detail and sterling work with local producers. This is everything a burger shack ought to be!
Cool As Leicester rating: 9/10
Visit the Meatcure website to see their menu and more!
Check back soon for more info on Meatcure’s Leicester branch opening and a special competition!
Words by Iain Morton.
Follow me on Twitter: @RedLeics