02 February 2012

Meat and Two Veg: Meat People Review

It is surprisingly difficult to find good steak in London. Even pricier restaurants don't always get it right and Le Relais de Venise is usually my first choice. For £21 you get a really juicy, perfectly cooked steak (served in two stages so the second half doesn't get cold), more-ish frites, a tasty salad and baguette. There are always queues outside the Marylebone branch, which means it isn't always the best place to go for a slow, relaxing dinner.

Enter Meat People (not to be confused with Meat Liquor), a new restaurant in Islington--so new, in fact, that there is still no menu, address or information about opening times on its website. In fact, if it wasn't for a recommendation from The Nudge, it would have been months before I ventured far enough up the Essex Road to come across it. It was perhaps unsurprising, then, that at six o'clock on a freezing cold week night, we were the only customers; by the time we left, there was one other couple there. This is a shame because Meat People is a great little place. The menu is fairly simple: there are a couple of steak options (rib eye and onglet, reasonably priced at £18 and £13, respectively), ribs and a few more adventurous choices. Luckily, I discovered before ordering that the starter special was also a lot more adventurous than I realised--sweet bread (not being 'sweet' or 'bread') marinated in lemon, lime and rosemary, on a bed of rocket.

In any case, I couldn't not have steak and the onglet came impressively medium rare. We had some warm bread to nibble on while waiting for our main course, although the steak appeared stark on the otherwise empty white plate. We shared some chunky chips but weren't tempted by any of the other side dishes. I was also put off by the idea of paying extra for Bearnaise sauce but luckily, the steak was good enough that it didn't need any garnishes or sauces. Puddings were also tasty. I opted for the lime cheesecake with white chocolate sauce and unlike the main course, it arrived looking a little like a Jackson Pollock painting (in a good way), with assorted mini pieces of fruit and sauces liberally scattered over the top. The tang of the lime contrasted well with the richness of the cake.

The service was very friendly, although I always feel a bit awkward when the ratio of staff to customers is 1:1. The attentiveness made it hard to take photos too, especially as I only had my iPhone with me, and so the quality isn't great. I did like the retro feel of the simple but elegant decor. Meat People's website reads, "Meat People. Neighbourhood. Steak & Cocktails" (the font fickleness is echoed in the menu too). Hopefully, it will become a buzzing neighbourhood restaurant once it gets going. As for the cocktails, there was no cocktail menu, although they "can do mixers". There are a good range of wines by the glass but as an aficionada of artisanal cocktails, I thought it was a shame my expectations for a creative, well-mixed drink were not met. Otherwise, though, Meat People is a friendly, characterful restaurant, serving very good steak--give it a try before all of N1 is calling it their own neighbourhood restaurant.

Meat People. 4-6 Essex Road, London, N1 8LN (Tube: Angel or Essex Road rail). Website. Twitter.

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