Sunday, 7 September 2014


Meatopia at Tobacco Dock, London
Meatopia at Tobacco Dock, London
After Friday and Saturday nights, I was concerned if I could muster up the appetite for Meatopia, which is a two-day festival of meat, smoke and live music held on 6 and 7 September at the Tobacco Dock. As we had tickets and tokens already purchased, we soldiered on. Now, since we all know by now that Wifey does not eat meat, she of course tagged along in the spirit of it all. Which also meant that I had five tokens to myself – yes, I was set on a course to eat five dishes with no assistance.

The good news, of course, is that there was plenty to tempt me with so here were my five dishes in order of satisfaction:

1.  Pork Belly Pastrami sandwich – Home Team BBQ, South Carolina

Boy, oh boy was this nice. The pork was incredibly flavourful and briney-moist, the slaw was nicely pickled to cut through the rich meat, and the mustard sauce just balanced enough to bring it all together. I was shocked that there was virtually no one at this stand – I guess the English are not familiar with pastrami yet and preferred the wow factor of the whole ox on a spit. Too bad – this was sublime.

2.  Smoked Goose Bahn Mi – The House of Ho, Soho

Smoked Goose Bahn Mi from The House of Ho
Smoked Goose Bahn Mi from The House of Ho
Another delight. The goose was amazingly flavourful and abundant and a perfect match for the remaining traditional bahn mi toppings. The baguette was a bit dull we all agreed but not enough to detract from the sandwich. Very nice indeed.

3.  Meister Burger – Shake Shack, London

Yes, I know, why waste a burger experience on a Shake Shack burger? To be honest, I had no intension but it just looked too good to pass! They really got me with the fried onion topping. And guess what?  It was a really nice, simple, well-balanced burger. I have eaten at Shake Shack in NYC and though I enjoyed it, I really don’t think it warrants the insane hype that it receives in that city.  Then again, as a former New Yorker myself, I recognize food hype and probably should not be all that surprised.  Anyway, I really enjoyed that burger.

4.  Beef Brisket sandwich – SmokeStak, London

I was really looking forward to this sandwich, and I really wanted to like this sandwich, and I was pretty disappointed. Not because it wasn’t good, it was perfectly fine. The meat was nicely cooked and the bun was nicely coated with butter on the top and BBQ sauce on the bottom. But something just wasn’t right.  Maybe the butter detracted from the beef fat, maybe the barbecue sauce should have been on the top instead. Maybe the large pieces of rock salt they sprinkle on was too overpowering, maybe the pickled peppers had no real purpose.  I don’t really know what went wrong here but I was non-plussed about the whole thing; there simply was no balance.  Note that this was actually the first dish I had at Meatopia.

5.  Grilled Texas Patty Melt and ‘cue butter – The Granary, Texas

Jesus Christ, this just about killed me. This was half a cheeseburger on a bun spread with butter mixed with barbecue drippings (smuggled in from Texas). The dish was pretty successful but I had simply hit a wall and could not finish this.  I literally struggled with those last few bites.  I should have sold that last token …

For a guy with both gout and high cholesterol, this weekend on paper should have killed me. Two points for the pharmaceutical industry.

For more photos from Meatopia, visit our Facebook album.

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