“The burger is omnipotent and irresistible, it can never be weakened.”
The rise of boutique burger joints in the capital means this bold statement from one of the more recent additions – Meat & Shake – rings true.
The discerning burger lover is now spoilt for choice from reimagined classics to the positively artisan – long gone are grey patties and rubbery cheese.
So how can Meat & Shake stand out from this crowd?
Firstly, it’s in a crafty location in Upper Tooting Road.
It provides a great alternative to the morass of curry houses, kebab shops and the flagship Chicken Cottage that otherwise make up Tooting Bec.
They have also done their research and made the menu fully halal and alcohol free – unlikely to alienate the diverse surrounding community.
The menu itself is inventive and intriguing, with options including a truffle-infused burger and another that arrives in its own smokey chamber.
Red leather booths and bare bulbs give the restaurant the vibe of an American diner to set against its more refined food.
I order the Smoking Bandit – chipotle mayo, turkey bacon and cheddar all smoked – while my flatmate opts for the Luchador – a Mexican mix of nachos, jalapenos and guacamole.
When they arrive 10-15 minutes later, both are impeccably presented – mine in its cloud chamber and the Luchador replete with coloured tortilla chips.
The meat is suitably pink and juicy inside, delicately complimenting the mix of smokey flavours and lightly toasted brioche bun to mop up any remaining sauce.
The cooking certainly does not waste the 35-day dry aged beef sourced from Macken Bros of Selfridges, showing the care that has gone into the menu.
To accompany our burgers we both go for a set of rosemary fries, which are crispy and light without being overpowered by the herb.
The range of sides – various styles of fries, chicken rings and onion rings – is impressive but nonetheless my main gripe about Meat & Shake and other burger joints of their kind.
Having to purchase the sides separately makes for a fairly expensive meal – especially if the burger are already between £7-10, as they are here.
My aversion to milk means I’m unable to test out the other main draw of the restaurant but my flatmate assures me his strawberry milkshake is delicious and pleasingly full of pieces of the fruit.
At around £5 the shakes may sound pricey but for it you get nearly 1litre of shake in a metal vessel, with many interesting concoctions on offer.
We dined on a notably quiet mid-week evening but having walked past many times previously the small restaurant has often been packed.
There are also no reservations so to prevent disappointment or a lengthy wait it is best to avoid peak lunch and dinner times – a takeaway option is also available.
Meat & Shake is worth the effort though and has carved out a welcome niche among more established names with their carefully crafted, tender burgers and fulsome milkshakes.