Passing time in our city’s fine dining restaurants is a luxurious experience. One can sit starry eyed with crisp white linen, ranks of gleaming cutlery, and shining wine glasses, while suited waiting staff attend to every dietary foible and request. However as much as I love it, and I really do, so please ask should you require company on such a visit, it’s not something I could say I “crave”. My cravings are reserved for somewhat more down-to-earth cuisine.
Queue the Brum streetfood scene. I’m talking Thai from Budda Belly; slices from Pizza Traders and Bare Bones Pizza; delights from Platinum Pancakes; Toasties from Jaberwocky and so many more. While those are available only at special streetfood events like the hallowed Digbeth Dining Club, we can now indulge in some that have opened their own brick and mortar establishments: Indian food from the Indian Brew House, or the new Indian Streatery; and of course one of the best known venues, Original Patty Men (OPM) burgers which opened 18 months ago.
We now have an alternative to the wonderful OPM. The city’s other firm favourite burger makers, Meat Shack, have opened a venue right near to the Hippodrome on Thorp Street, in the building previously occupied by Stage Side bar, with all of their normal “Dripping Filthy Goodness”.
If you’ve not eaten artisan burgers like this before, don’t think of them like the greasy stale bun affairs that you can find in a B&Q car park for two quid, consisting mainly of minced ear, snout, and trotter. This is burger making qua art-form, with the best ingredients, interesting ideas, and skilful burger chefs.
The Meat Shack sits above Thorp 17 bar, on Thorp Street opposite The Dance Exchange. The bar is bright and warm, and we’ve enjoyed a few pre-burger pints here already. They’ve a good range of beers and lagers. Many foodie venues seem to opt for a more craft beer offering which is all 8%-complicated-massive-citra-hops, whereas often I just want a lighter lager or two with dinner – so I am well served here at Meat Shack. Take the stairs hinted at from the bar from a sign, to find the large burger joint, with tables small and large.
There’s a permanent offering of a few burgers, and usually a special on as well. Usually I have a “Mr. C” burger (£7) – that’s an aged beef pattie, oozy American cheese, iceberg, red onion, pickle, ketchup, and shack sauce. I love the textural and temperature differences in burgers like this, crispness of lettuce, against softness of bun. We also like the “Dutch Piggy” burger with beautifully crisp bacon. The fries here (£3) are seriously good – a crispier one you won’t find, and the chipotle mayo (“chipayo”) is really zingy. I like a frickle or two (that’s battered fried pickles, of course), but they are quite heavy and couldn’t recommend a whole portion for one person.
Like so many of the streetfood folks, these guys are obsessed with the food they offer, and they end up providing a fantastic product! If you haven’t visited already, get there soon, it’s a must-do in Brum for anyone serious about food, and brilliant value for a night out!