We’re always exited to hear about another new street food venture hitting to the streets and this time setting our sights slightly further afield than just London and heading off to Birmingham for a guest post from @Manzanotti discussing The Meat Shack’s debut service ( I would have gone myself. but my Travelcard is only Zones 1-2). Here’s his thoughts;
I’m sure that anyone interested in food in Birmingham has been following the explosion of street food in London with interest, and the occasional train ticket. There’s a good chance that they will also have stumbled across the Twitter account of The Meat Shack, who have been talking a good game about their burgers for at least 8 months now, but with no actual sign of any end product appearing on the street. Apparently, Birmingham Council aren’t interested in having a street food scene. Well, finally, after much cajoling on Twitter (which I may have been involved in!), they bought themselves a portable grill, and booked themselves in to this month’s Stirchley Community Market.
Now, before proceeding with the review, I should state that I haven’t made it down to any of the street food establishments in London, due mainly to having 2 young kids, coupled with my naturally high levels of inertia. Also I must admit that I’ve also been scared off by the tales of long queues that a lot of the vendors generate, what with my tolerance for hearing the phrase “When are we going to eat, I’m starving. And bored.” repeated endlessly being quite low! So, although I’ve read many a blog post on them (on here, amongst other places, natch), I’m in no position to be able to make any comparisons, so this is just going to be a Caesar-esque, thumbs up or thumbs down review.
So, with a little trepidation, I packed the wife and kids into the car, and moseyed on down to the Stirchley Working Man’s Club to witness their inaugural outing.
First thing we noticed upon arrival was that Mr Meat Shack (or Paul as he is also known) was extremely stressed, as their baker had let them down on the bun front; whereas the test brioche buns he’d brought them the week before were apparently excellent, the ones delivered today were under-prooved and over-cooked, which had necessitated an
emergency trip to Sainsbury’s. Not an ideal start for the burger perfectionist Paul!
It being their first outing, they were keeping things simple on the menu front, with just the three burgers:
Smash O Shack – a straight up burger
Mr C Shack – their cheeseburger
The Hell Shack – a chilli cheeseburger
With four of us of various sizes to feed, I ordered one of each, though as this family operates on the “Joey doesn’t share” principle, I had no illusions about being able to try all of them. Or anything other than my own. I then perched myself beside the grill to watch the action. The locally-sourced 28 day aged beef was shaped into round balls, and placed onto the grill, before being get squashed down with a grill press, and generously seasoned. The cheeseburgers are additionally steam finished by covering them with a cloche, melting the cheese perfectly, and giving the bun a nice sheen.
After watching a fair few burgers served up to the waiting crowd, ours were up. My Hell Shack looked good. The base had ketchup and American mustard generously spread over it, with chopped Iceberg lettuce, a smattering of red onion (not normally a fan of raw onion on, well, anything, but this wasn’t over-powering at all), and a generous layer of pickled gherkin layered on top of it. The patty had a generous amount of chopped green chillies under the steam-melted cheese, was perfectly seasoned, and nicely pink in the middle, giving up a decent amount of juice. The chillis gave out a decent amount of heat, without being in danger of drifting into machismo territory. Needless to say, the burger disappeared pretty quickly.
So, my overall verdict? Well, Claire and I had seconds, and the kids ate everything put in front of them, so that should tell you everything you need to know! Having now taken their first step into the world of street food, I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop, as well as the improvement a decent bun will make. But, all in all, a promising start, so a thumbs up from me!